Matildas caught up in scheduling backlash as fans fume over 'ridiculous' farce

Fans in the eastern states of Australia weren't happy about the kick-off times for two of the Matildas games.

The Matildas, pictured here in Perth.
The Matildas played all three of their Olympic qualifying games in Perth. Image: Getty

Football fans are questioning the scheduling of the Matildas' Olympic Games qualifiers after two of the three didn't start until 10pm on the east coast of Australia. While Sunday's game against the Philippines kicked off at 3pm in Perth (6pm AEDT), the first and third games didn't get underway until 7pm in the west.

It meant fans in the eastern states had to stay up until 10pm just to watch the start of the games against Iran and Chinese Taipei, with the games not finishing until midnight. While organisers in Perth had every right to schedule the games for their audience in the west, fans in Sydney and Melbourne were left crying foul.

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It would have been extremely unlikely for parents to let their kids stay up until midnight on a school night to watch the games. Broadcaster Neil Breen wrote on Twitter: "What d*ckhead thought the Matildas should play at 7pm Perth time (10pm AEDT) on a school night?

"It should have at least started at 6 in Perth which is 9 here. You can’t [win] the battle for a new generation when they’re asleep… Same as league games starting after 8 to suit Channel 9 - 7.40 should be mandatory start time."

One fan replied: "My daughter is obsessed, watched every game for the last four years, now it’s a 10pm and school tomorrow. Ridiculous!"

Journalist Bernie Coen pointed out that the schedule was done before the Matildas captivated the entire country during their run to the semi-finals of the recent Women's World Cup. "Schedule was done well before the World Cup and was originally designated to a ground that held 12,000 people," he wrote. "They didn't expect they'd become as popular as they are. Agree shocking time but once in Perth not much choice on a weeknight given they have three qualifiers in seven days."

Matildas to face Uzbekistan for place in 2024 Olympics

The Matildas' 3-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Wednesday night saw them top their group and advance to a two-leg playoff against Uzbekistan in February. The winner will qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The Aussies cruised through the second round of qualifying in Perth, beating Iran 2-0, the Philippines 8-0, and Chinese Taipei 3-0. The first game of February's playoff will be in Uzbekistan on February 24, with Australia to host game two at a yet-to-be-decided venue on February 28.

It's a dream scenario for the Matildas, who faced the very real prospect of having to take on World No.8 Japan if other results hadn't fallen their way. Japan, who were so impressive at the World Cup, will instead take on North Korea for the only other Olympics spot from the Asian confederation.

The Matildas, pictured here Olympic qualifying games in Perth.
The Matildas sold out crowds during their three Olympic qualifying games in Perth. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

The Matildas were dominant during their three games in Perth, but it took them until the 62nd minute to break down Chinese Taipei's stubborn defence on Wednesday night. It was well worth the wait for the sell-out crowd, with Mary Fowler scoring a long-range stunner from outside the box.

"I think in those moments, you're not really thinking too much," Fowler said of her wonder strike. "You're just doing them off instinct and trying them out. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. I had a few chances in the first half and that one in the second half went in."

Sam Kerr scored from point-blank range just six minutes later, before substitute Tameka Yallop sealed the win in the 76th minute with the Matildas' third goal. Kerr scores five goals across the three games.

with AAP

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