Matilda’s return game against Vietnam started in bizarre circumstances, with the venue’s power shutting down 50 seconds after the kick-off.
After convincingly winning the opening game in front of 14,014 fans in Newcastle on Friday, the Australian team went to Quang Ninh for Wednesday’s return match.
The game at Cam Pha Stadium was to be played behind closed doors due to the growing fear of the coronavirus epidemic. Therefore, the Matilde entered the field and sang the national anthem with zero spectators present.
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The kick-off was initially delayed due to a power outage, but eventually the game started five minutes later than expected.
However, 50 seconds after the opening whistle, the venue’s light went out again, leaving the players competing in pitch darkness.
An Australian shouted: “Keep playing” in the dark, another shouting, “We can’t see anything.”
Former Matilda Amy Duggan admitted that she had “never seen anything like this” during Fox Sports coverage.
After about 20 minutes of darkness, the spotlight slowly began to revive, the game eventually resumed in Quang Ninh.
In the 15th minute, superstar striker Sam Kerr scored the opening goal of the game, taking Australia 1-0 ahead and placing it second in the all-time Matildas scorer standings with 42 in his 88-year career. games.
A statement released Friday by the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) said the match organizer has decided not to open ticket sales to the public “because of the complicated development of the COVID-19 epidemic.”
“Spectators should not come to the stadium area … avoid large public gatherings, to ensure effective prevention of the epidemic,” read the note.
VFF Secretary General Le Hoai Anh told AFP that “only accredited people can participate in the game”.
Vietnam suspended all sports competitions in the country last month to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams said that beyond the general safety precautions, Matildas’ training and preparation have been relatively undisturbed.
“We’ll go out if there is a crowd or not, so I think everyone can’t wait to do it and it’s just a normal thing,” Williams said on Monday.
“Everyone has their own hand sanitizer – so just make sure to wash your hands and then hand sanitize them a number of times a day, of course before and after meals and whenever you think you need them.
“We basically took precautions since Sydney for the Olympic qualifying first round when we heard about the coronavirus – so we’ve been aware of it ever since, so in reality this isn’t much different than what we were doing during Sydney.”
The Matilda are in the process of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics after beating Vietnam 5-0 in the first leg of their playoffs at home.