Australia and Japan earned qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 after their hard-fought 1-1 draw in Amman, Jordan, at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Japan’s veteran midfielder Mizuho Sakaguchi gave the Nadeshiko the lead in the 63rd minute with a well-placed finish after Yui Hasegawa picked her out with an accurate cut-back pass. But it was Samantha Kerr, who was the hero for Australia, as she scored in the 86th minute, latching on the end of Kyah Simon’s initial shot to earn the draw and, most importantly, book the Matildas’ spot in France next year.
With the 1-1 draw, Australia finished top of Group B at the Women’s Asian Cup on five points, just ahead of Japan on goal difference.
In the day’s other match, Korea Republic thrashed Vietnam 4-0, thanks to goals from Cho Sohyun, Lee Geummin, and a brace from Lee Mina. Mina’s first strike was the pick of the bunch, as she caught Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Thi Kieu Trinh off her goalline and drove a volley in from long distance.
Korea Republic will now face the Philippines, who were the third-place finishers in Group A, in the tournament’s match for fifth place on Monday, and crucially, for the last spot in next year’s world finals.
Korea Republic have yet to concede a goal at the continental tournament, securing goalless draws against Australia and Japan in their first two matches. The Philippines, meanwhile, beat hosts Jordan 2-1 on the opening matchday before losing to China PR 3-0 and Thailand 3-1.
Japan will be headed to their eighth successive Women’s World Cup, while Australia make it seven in a row. Japan have been finalists at the last two Women’s World Cups. They were the first Asian nation to win the Women’s World Cup in 2011. Australia have qualified for the quarter-finals at the last three Women’s World Cups.