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Australia, China to Olympics, Japan out

Australia are heading to the Olympics for the first time since 2004. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Australia are heading to the Olympics for the first time since 2004. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

China beat South Korea, 1-0 on Monday to knock Japan out of contention for the Olympics. Later, Australia downed North Korea, 2-1 tot wrap up trips to Rio for themselves and China. The only two undefeated sides in the six-team tournament, Australia and China will meet Wednesday for the top spot in the round robin competition, but regardless of the result both are headed to Brazil. Both Koreas were also eliminated on Monday. Vietnam, 6-1 losers to Japan, had already been eliminated.

Japan’s elimination sent shockwaves to women’s soccer fans around the world. The Nadeshiko had been finalists in the last three global tournaments and are hosting the Olympic qualifying event. The only time Japan has failed to qualify for the Olympics was 2000. They have a free pass in 2020 as the host.

China and Australia, who lost to the respective finalists in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, will both return to the Olympics after failing to reach the event in 2012. That was the first time the Chinese had missed. Their best finish was runner-up to the United States in the inaugural tournament in 1996. Australia missed the last two Games and had yet to qualify since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. Their previous appearances were 2000 and 2004. The Matildas reached the quarterfinals in 2004.

Austarlia led for much of their match after Michelle Heyman gave them a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. The North Koeans fought back and equalized in the 78th minute through Kim Su Gyong, but even a draw would have put Australia and China through. Katrina Gorry ended the suspense with the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute.

Wang Shanshan scored for China in the 43rd minute marking the defense kept its second clean sheet of the tournament. Japan were already eliminated by the time they pounded Vietnam. Six different players scored while Huynh Nhu converted from the spot for Vietnam’s first goal of the tournament.

With the Asian qualifiers decided there is one more spot left for Rio. Sweden need draw against the Netherlands on Wednesday to bag Europe’s final spot. A loss will open the door for the Netherlands or Norway, who will play Switzerland.


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