SYDNEY – Matildas are not panicking, however, after falling to a loss of 3-2 with a shock against Chile in Penrith on Saturday. But with the Women's World Cup watch counting, their latest results are bound to play in their minds.
After conceiving the hearts and minds of the Australian audience with their impressive victories behind Brazil this time last year, the Matildas failed to reproduce magic against Chile in the 39th.
By killing most of the fight, the Matildas were made to lose the chances and costly mistakes as Chile turned the three chances into three goals. By comparison, Matildas ran the game, commanding possession and territory, but despite the fifteen attempts to reach goal, they simply could not beat Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler – Chile's best player of the day – this was based on two penalty shootout goals to close the gap.
"We certainly had control of the game and we probably gave them a chance," said Matildas coach Alen Stajcic after the match. "It's a little disappointing, we definitely gave them two of them [opportunities], and maybe even the third, but this is international football – you are punishing for your mistakes.
"When looking at the other side of the court we created enough to get to good places to score and either the cut or the shot or the clinical element required a few times was probably missing."
But with less than eight months until the Women's World Cup in France, the countdown is for Stajcic to cushion the start of 11, and with the latest performances on the side, the pressure begins to rise to his team.
Matildas's play plan, with many offensive players playing off, has posed questions as to whether the party can continue to adopt the same approach regardless of the opposition. But despite their recent defeat, Stajcic refuses to think of a change of style.
"We can not ask the players to play and then, when we have a mistake to say:" Oh we'll throw the baby with bath water, "he said.
"We just have to be better.
"We have played with a certain style for a long time and games like this are happening [our] England, where we are poor and we got a draw, sometimes results do not reflect performance.
"We do not want these mistakes, but we will support our players all the time."
The hottest team in 2017, Matildas lost only one game to 11. including their first win in the United States, three wins against Brazil [including a massive 6-1 demolition], and three victories over China. They demanded the opening tournament of the Nations, while they steadily recovered the FIFA world rankings, reaching their highest point in four.
Unfortunately for Matildas, their creation in the World Cup in 2018 did not continue with the same trend.
They started the year strongly against Norway, but soon fell into their first defeat in 13 fights and finished fourth in the Algarve Cup. They were suddenly overwhelmed by Japan and lost the Asian Cup final before they allowed a goal against the US to equalize to ToN and later lost the title to the hosts. More recently, France lost the opposition and managed to win a tie with England.
For fans of Matildas it is far from the high levels they met in 2017.
"It's definitely a year with high levels of results and the way we play," said Stajcic. "But improvement and growth is not always a linear advance.
"Just like everything in life, sometimes there are ups and downs on the road, this is a pretty good hit on the road, so we need to learn and grow from it and make sure we keep looking at what needs to be done. we are doing better to give us the best chance when we arrive in June next year. "
The inability to concentrate for the full 90 minutes seems to be an issue that has demonstrated the side of the last year, as they allow their opposition back to the fight despite their dominance throughout the game. And it could prove costly to a World Cup high stakes event.
Just last year, Matildas has allowed Brazil to score its first goals in the second friendly at Newcastle, while the fall in injury to the US. in July saw the best team in the world take the opportunity and bet the fight.
"I think there is evidence of this [lack of concentration] which is certainly true, but we are playing a sport where a goal can change momentum very quickly regardless of who is at the top and can change momentum, "he said.
"I do not think I've seen a soccer game where a team dominates for 90 minutes, it's not just possible.
"We have to make sure that when we do not have control of the game, we will stay in the game a bit better. It is the performance we have to see, the results can come and go and change quietly in football but it is the performance that really supports the majority of the results and we focus on that. "
Although Matildas had occasions to be proud of Chile, the only metric that really matters is the numbers on the scoreboard and while Stajcic is right that a football game can turn around at any time if the Matildas would have a trip such as Saturday against France, England or the United States in the World Cup, would be sent home with their queues between their legs.