Matildas' World Cup preps get underway
Australia commenced their final preparations for next month's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany by cruising to a 3-0 win over New Zealand at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Thursday.
Matildas coach Tom Sermanni fielded a partly experimental line-up for the match played behind closed doors, ahead of a second outing against the Kiwis on Sunday at the same venue.
With a number of players auditioning for a place in the 21-strong squad for Germany, Australia produced a disjointed performance before netting two goals in the final 12 minutes.
Teenage debutant Caitlin Foord commenced her international career in sensational fashion with a goal after 10 minutes.
The 16-year-old Year 11 Illawarra Sports High student - one of two debutants along with Sydney FC teammate Catherine Cannuli - converted from 10 yards with a composed finish to become one of the youngest ever goal scorers for the Matildas.
The two goalkeepers were inactive for lengthy periods of the match before Australia began to dominate in the second half.
Substitute Kyah Simon scored with a sensational long-range strike on 78 minutes to double the Matildas' advantage.
The W-League's leading goalscorer and player of the year launched an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner of the net.
Fellow substitute Sam Kerr struck the post a few moments later and Leena Khamis then did likewise against a tiring New Zealand defence.
The match was the first for the Matildas since the recent knee injury to key forward Kate Gill which will force the reigning Asian Women's Player of the Year to miss Germany.
Striker Khamis filled the void and capped a hard-working performance with a goal six minutes from time after latching onto a perfect Emily van Egmond pass.
"I was really pleased with the performance, doubly so given it is our first hit-out of the year and it was effectively a new team we fielded today," Sermanni said.
"We gave the ball away a few times but generally we maintained possession and kept the tempo high moving the ball well.
"If anything today has given me more selection headaches in terms of picking the final squad and certainly no one played their way out of contention."