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Australia’s under-20s forced to play on snow-covered pitch in Uzbekistan in bizarre scenes

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VideoThe U20 side took out the 2-1 victory on a half-cleared pitch.

Young Matildas coach Leah Blayney says she had to calm some players down after being confronted with a snow-covered pitch in Uzbekistan for their opening under-20 Women’s Asian Cup campaign that earnt tournament organisers significant backlash.

The Aussies came from behind to pull off a resilient 2-1 victory over Korea Republic after being greeted by the shocking conditions on arrival at the stadium in Tashkent, with snow blanketing the middle of the pitch.

Former Matildas Amy Chapman and midfielder Alex Chidiac were among the most vocal online critics of the conditions, unleashing as they watched on.

“I am still not comprehending this. How is this game happening?” Chapman wrote on X.

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“Player safety must come first.”

In a sterner assessment, Chidiac asked “How is this okay to play in?”

Young Matildas play on a snow covered pitch in Uzbekistan
Camera IconYoung Matildas play on a snow-covered pitch in Uzbekistan Credit: Supplied

Blayney conceded her players could be faced with similar conditions during the campaign and despite the heavy criticism said it was something her players would have to adapt to.

“For some of the players it was actually the first time for them to see snow, so it was about just calming them down, making them understand that these are the conditions that we’re going to have to adapt to,” she said after the win.

“I think it really demonstrated the maturity of the playing group and their ability to adapt. The group coming together in a tough time, I think that’s important in tournament football and in anything you do in life on and off the pitch and the playing group showed real character and resilience tonight and flexibility to adapt.”

Australian goalkeeper Chloe Lincoln said the player were shocked to see the state of the field on arrival and it impacted their confidence to play as they normally would.

“I think that was definitely a bit of adjustment. It was very slippery out there, very wet and icy, and it was a bit of a weird dynamic with the snow and then the grass.” she said.

Young Matildas  confronted with a snow covered pitch in Uzbekistan for their opening their-20 Women’s Asian Cup campaign
Camera IconThe Young Matildas had to adapt. Credit: Supplied

“It would really hold up on the snow and then skid through on the grass.

“I know that everyone was definitely a bit shocked turning up and seeing the snow on the pitch and I think it was still a bit unknown in the warm-up whether we would be dealing with it in the actual match too.

“So I think the ability for the group to adapt and then the resilience you know when we conceded in that first half to come out in the second half and bring in new energy and never give up, never say die, I think that was probably a really proud moment for me being a part of this group.”

With the win, Australia shot to the top of Group A with matches still to come against Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei.

The team will next face Uzbekistan on Wednesday night.

Originally published as Australia’s under-20s forced to play on snow-covered pitch in Uzbekistan

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