The CommBank Pararoos have secured their first win of the IFCPF Asia Oceania Championships, and given their hopes of qualifying for the final a major boost, defeating Japan 7-1.
Four goals in the first half within seven minutes of each other were key to the win. Connor Bunce was responsible for three of those goals, including a long-range worldie and a volley at the back post – making it an astonishing seven-minute hattrick for the midfielder.
He would finish with a fantastic four goals. Daniel Campbell was the other scorer in the first half, while 17-year-old Kaylan van Heer scored a second-half brace.
The occasion also marked appearance 109 in CommBank Pararoos colours for David Barber, equalling Mark Schwartzer’s record for most appearances for an Australian men’s national team.
The game kicked off under gloomy skies at the Home of the Matildas, a weather change cooling the temperature down before the game, but not the stakes. Simply put, the CommBank Pararoos had to secure a win to have a realistic chance of finishing second and taking on Iran in the final on Saturday.
Australia started off the better side. There were several opportunities from set pieces, including Taj Lynch long throws and corner routines.
They soon made the pressure pay. Kaylan van Heer did well to win the ball on the right. He found Daniel Campbell, who played in Connor Bunce in front of goals. Bunce made no mistake, hammering it into the bottom corner of the net, and opened the scoring for the CommBank Pararoos.
Campbell doubled their lead minutes later. Japan goalkeeper Hideyuki Yanagi did well to save a Bunce long shot, but could only parry it into the path of Campbell, who tucked it away for his second of the tournament.
Bunce was playing like a man on a mission. In the 19th minute, he found space around the halfway line. Most would look to find a teammate, but not Bunce – he unleashed a strike on his left that flew into the bottom corner.
Somehow, he outdid himself moments later. Alessandro La Verghetta floated in a speculative cross from distance. Who else but Bunce was there at the back post, and he showed incredible technique to guide it into the net on the volley.
Connor Bunce could not stop finding the back of the net and unfortunately for Australia, a shot from Ryosuke Miura deflected off the back-tracking Bunce beyond goalkeeper David Barber to give Japan a lifeline just before half time.
It was 4-1 at half-time and the resumption of proceedings saw somewhat of a holding pattern emerge in the game. Both sides had their chances, but there was nothing clear-cut for either team to add to the scoreboard.
That was until Kaylan Van Heer put the ball in the back of the net three times in the 50th minute, before the decisive penalty that counted.
His goal from open play was chalked off as the referee had already blown the whistle to award a penalty. So, he stepped up to take the penalty, and converted – but the referee pulled it back for encroachment. He made no mistake the second time and this time it counted, scoring his first international goal and celebrating with the crowd in the process.
He scored his second six minutes later after a lovely ball from Daniel Campbell found him in the area. His shot deflected past Yanagi in goal.
Connor Bunce – not to be outdone – had another shot from distance and it again nestled into the back of the net, scoring his fourth and the team’s seventh.
Augustine Murphy had the opportunity to make it eight from the spot in stoppage time but was denied by a fantastic save from Hideyuki Yanagi, diving low to his right.
In all, it was a wonderful performance from the team against world no14 Japan. If Thailand fail to defeat Japan tomorrow afternoon, a win for the CommBank Pararoos by any margin against India will be enough to finish second and play in the final on Saturday.
No doubt Kai Lammert and his coaching staff will already be preparing for every situation.
Australia: 7 (Connor Bunce 13', 19', 20', 57', Daniel Campbell 15', Kaylan Van Heer 50' (p), 56')
Japan: 1 (Ryosuke Miura 26')
Australia: 2. Benjamin John Roche (14. Augustine Murphy 48'), 3. Kaylan Van Heer (11. Jeremy Boyce), 4. Alessandro La Verghetta (9. Luc Launder 60'), 5. Daniel Campbell (12. Benjamin Sutton 60'), 10. Connor Bunce, 13. Taj Lynch
1. Christian Tsangas (Benjamin Sutton 31'), 7. David Barber (c), 2. (Connor Bunce 38'), 8. Christian Bitsikas (11. Jeremy Boyce 31'), 9. Luc Launder, 14. Augustine Murphy
Substitutes not used: 1. Christian Tsangas, 6. Joshua Beekes, 8. Christian Bitsikas
Japan: 1. Hideyuki Yanagi, 2. Kenichiro Akahage (6. Yora Mori 53'), 3. Tetsuya Toda, 5. Ryosuke Miura (c), 8. Tatsuhiro Ura, 10. Yoshiki Kuno, 14. Taisei Taniguchi (Yamato Motonakano 47')
Substitutes not used: 4. Hiroki Kameno, 11. Hiroto Kageyama, 12. Naoyoshi Henry Kagayama, 13. Riku Kono