The Matildas hardly deserved to undergo to the World Cup quarter-finals however their penalty shoot-out defeat to Norway in Good yesterday nonetheless left a bitter style.
Let’s be trustworthy, if Norwegian winger Caroline Graham Hansen hadn’t hit the within of the publish with a curling effort in stoppage-time on Sunday morning, we wouldn’t even be speaking about Australia’s Four-1 penalty shoot-out defeat.
Ditto Vilde Boe Risa, whose deft chip from 30 yards caught Lydia Williams off her line in extra-time however in the end clipped the highest of the crossbar.
So it’s not just like the Matildas had been undeniably the higher group.
However not for the primary time it was the style of an Australian nationwide group’s loss, reasonably than the defeat itself, that left such a bitter aftertaste.
As a result of Alanna Kennedy ought to by no means have been despatched off in extra-time.
And Tameka Yallop was denied the clearest penalty within the historical past of soccer simply earlier than full-time.
And the Matildas being denied one more penalty simply earlier than half-time brings into query why soccer even makes use of Video Assistant Referees within the first place.
Possibly Sam Kerr’s cross did come off Maria Thorisdottir’s shoulder in spite of everything?
However when German referee Riem Hussein blew her whistle to sign a spot-kick after Thorisdottir had dropped her physique downwards to satisfy Kerr’s cross, there was 41:10 displaying on the match clock.
And when Hussein re-entered the sector of play to chalk off her penalty determination, the clock now learn 44:25.
So the place within the intervening three minutes and 15 seconds was Hussein’s “clear and apparent error?”
If she had an unimpeded view and Hussein was clear in her conviction that Kerr’s cross had struck Thorisdottir’s arm, why was VAR know-how used to overturn the choice?
The video replay appeared to recommend Kerr’s cross merely struck Thorisdottir’s higher physique – nevertheless it’s not prefer it was conclusive.
And maybe the larger problem at hand – or at the least one most likely value debating – is why refereeing selections at main tournaments appear to continuously go in opposition to groups like Australia.
It’s not solely us Aussies. Simply ask Kiwi soccer followers how they really feel about FIFA refereeing of late.
It appears irrespective of which Australian nationwide group is in motion, the default response from FIFA referees is to name virtually each key determination in opposition to them.
However then – and this is a crucial distinction to make – the Matildas may by no means have been enjoying Norway within the first place if it wasn’t for a few essential selections going their manner within the Three-2 win over Brazil.
So as soon as in a blue moon refereeing selections do go Australia’s manner.
And perhaps that’s the issue. In our rush as followers to run each determination that goes in opposition to our groups by the microscope, we’ve opened the door to the form of officiating we’ve seen a lot of on this Ladies’s World Cup.
As a result of, let’s face it, using VAR know-how has been a nightmare.
Simply as we’ve skilled within the A-League, it has ruined the move of video games, robbed aim celebrations of their spontaneity and compelled on-field referees to second-guess their very own selections.
As a rule it’s solely added confusion when the entire level of video referees was to take away it.
And as followers we should always acknowledge tradition of questioning each minor determination was solely ever going to end in a significant change to the best way soccer is refereed.
On the finish of the day, the Matildas weren’t ok to beat Norway.
The Norwegians executed their sport plan higher on the evening, together with throughout that fateful penalty shoot-out.
And an Australian plan that concerned sacking the coach within the build-up and completed with extra questions than solutions forward of their Tokyo Olympics qualification marketing campaign arguably received what it deserved.
We ought to be pleased with the Matildas’ efforts in France.
However as is so usually the case in Australian soccer, it’s one other marketing campaign that leaves us all questioning ‘what if?’