INAC Kobe too strong for United

Canberra United fell to a 0-4 loss to INAC Kobe Leonessa in their opening IWCC match yesterday.

Canberra United lost the opening match of the Mobcast Cup International Women's Club Championship in Tokyo overnight to the Japan Women's Football League champions, INAC Kobe Leonessa. The Nadeshiko L-League champions dominated the match with their seven world cup stars, including Captain Shinobu Ohno, Homare Sawa, Nahomi Kawasumi and goal keeper Ayumi Kaihori leading the way. Two goals from USA import, Goebel Yanez and goals to Shinobu Ohno and Megumi Takase highlighted why the local team has dominated the Nadeshiko League for the past two seasons.

The current W-League champions struggled to retain possession in the first half and couldn't get into their familiar attacking style due to great pressing and solid defence by Leonessa. The playing surface was also greasy and fast which added to the visitor's woes.

The second half started with Sally Shipard replacing Ariane Hingst (calf muscle strain) in the midfield and Canberra was immediately on the charge with three consecutive corners and a free kick outside the box. Solid work from World Cup star Kaihori meant the Leonessa never looked in too much trouble in front of their goal.

Canberra's strikers had moments in the game to shine and it was youngster Hayley Raso who created the one of the best chances in the dying minutes when she broke through the defence and headed towards goal with five Kobe players on her tail. Under great pressure her shot failed to have much power and Kaihori gathered comfortably.

Despite the result, Coach Jitka Klimkova was pleased with United's performance as it was always expected to be a difficult and high tempo match given that most of the Kobe players are together in competition for half the year and work solidly as a team at local and national level.

"It was great to see first-hand the standard of the Nadeshiko League and to assess where Australian women's football needs to be so we can be more competitive in this kind of international competition," Klimkova said. "We came here to compete at our best and to learn from the experience and I know every Canberra player put everything into this match. To play against such world class players is a huge test for many of our younger players".

Klimkova experimented with a few changes to the line-up including Catherine Brown at right back and Grace Gill as centre forward. "We played as a team tonight with everyone playing well but I have to say both these players did really well and I was also really happy with Caitlin Cooper and Jenni Bissett who had outstanding games. We can be proud of our green team."

Canberra will now prepare for the third place play-off game on Sunday against another highly decorated club in the world of Japanese football after NTV Beleza lost 5-2 to the European champions Olympique Lyonnais in the earlier game last night. Beleza (meaning beauty in Portugese) won the national women's league Cup in 2012 and cannot be underestimated. They will be led by team captain and defender Azusa Iwashimizu who is great in one-on-ones and reading the game. She has been in the league's best X1 for six straight seasons and is a regular in the national team. Other key players include Miharu Kobayashi and Asano Nagasato who was is a lethal goal-scorer and has represented Japan at every level from under 17s to seniors.

With five substitutes able to take the field in this tournament, Klimkova gave all players except Sally Rojahn, Grace Field and reserve goalkeeper Aroon Clansey invaluable match time last night. With Hingst the only player unlikely to start on Sunday due to injury, United can expect to have one, if not both, the 18 year old field players make their international appearance at club level in the next match. With $10,000 prize money up for stakes, there's an added bonus riding on the game.

Thursday 22nd November 2012 INAC Kobe Leonessa 4 (Goebel Yanez 17-, 82-, Takase Megumi 35-, Ono Shinobu 54-) Canberra United 0 (Saitama, Tokyo, Japan) Attendance: 2,027

Canberra United: 20. Trudy Burke, 2. Caitlin Cooper, 3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale (4. Christine Walters), 6. Caitlin Munoz (17. Samantha Wood), 7. Ellie Brush, 9. Grace Gill (8. Hayley Raso 55-), 11. Michelle Heyman, 13. Nicole Sykes, 16. Catherine Brown, 17. Ariane Hingst (15. Sally Shipard 46-), 19. Jennifer Bisset

Other Match

NTV Beleza 2 (Kiryu 57-, Nagasato 90-) Olympique Lyonnais 5 (own goal 2-, Dickenmann 4-, 58-, Necib 23-, Schelin 60-)