The Matildas have endured a sobering return to international action, being outclassed in a 5-2 defeat by Olympic champions Germany in Wiesbaden.
In their first match since qualifying for the Tokyo Games, new coach Tony Gustavsson had a painful afternoon on Saturday watching his Australian national side chasing shadows for much of the afternoon against the world’s No.2 team.
Even two late goals from Emily Gielnik couldn’t hide the gulf in class between the two sides as the Matildas really did look like a team who hadn’t played an international together for 13 months since qualifying for the Olympics.
Australia were lucky just to be one goal down at halftime to Sjoeke Nusken’s 10th minute strike, having had not a single attempt on goal themselves in the opening stanza.
Yet the Matildas were outplayed even more comprehensively after the break with further goals from Kathrin Hendrich, Jule Brand and Laura Freigang not flattering the hosts as they forged into a 4-0 lead, a tally which could easily have been doubled.
Brisbane Roar striker Gielnik pulled one back in the 82nd minute and after Germany had made it five through Linda Dallman in stoppage time, she nabbed another consolation goal a minute later to give the scoreline a flattering look.
The Australian team did have a difficult preparation with their charter flight from their Netherlands training base having been delayed but the hosts had been even more inconvenienced, having had four players ruled out late because of a COVID-19 scare.
Yet apart from Gielnik’s late double and a five-minute spell at the start when the Matildas opened brightly, Germany, who won the Olympic title in Rio, looked in a different league with Australia’s superstar captain Sam Kerr hardly getting a look in up front.