Australia qualified a women’s football team for the first time since moving to the Asian Football Confederation by winning the 2016 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament. The final tournament was a six team round robin where the top two teams qualify to the Olympics. The AFC Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament was held in Osaka, Japan from February 29th to March 9th 2016.
A large upset occurred on the opening day as Australia defeated World Cup runners-up Japan 3-1. Japan’s woes continued as they conceded a late goal to South Korea to finish 1-1 and were unable to comeback against China where they lost 2-1. 2012 Olympic qualifiers North Korea also had similar struggles as they tied 1-1 against both South Korea and China and required a 90th minute goal to defeat Vietnam 1-0. By the end of the third round robin match Australia topped the group with three wins and China was second with two wins and a draw.
Needing only a draw to qualify to the Olympics against North Korea Australia scored an 18th minute goal from Michelle Heyman. North Korea tied the match in the 78th minute, but Australia would take the lead again five minutes later to win the match and qualify to the Olympics 2-1. North Korea’s loss also guaranteed a spot to the Olympics for China as they defeated South Korea 1-0 earlier in the day.
While the final day of matches had no impact on Olympic qualifying there was still the title to play for. China would take the lead in the 16th minute via a goal from Ma Xiaoxu, but a late goal in the 85th minute by Australia’s Emily van Egmond ended the game with a draw meaning Australia finished top of the group to win the tournament.
Japan missing the Olympics is considered to be an upset as they were the silver medalists of the 2012 Olympics and the runners-up from the 2015 World Cup. Given the strength of women’s football in Asia there has been some discussion on adding another quota place or at least 0.5 of one with an inter-continental match afterwards. In total, 11 out of the 12 teams have been decided with the final one to be decided later today.
- South Korea
- North Korea
- AFC. 2016 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament. Access on March 9 2016.