Fresh off making her international tournament debut, Commonwealth Bank Matildas midfielder Clare Wheeler was still on cloud nine the morning after.
“I'm struggling to really find words to describe it, but it's an amazing feeling to get the starting debut at an Asian Cup,” Wheeler said.
“It's what dreams are really made for but I'm really happy and the result was just the icing on the cake."
Australia’s opening AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ match saw another tournament debut with teenager Holly McNamara achieving the rare feat of receiving her first international cap in an international tournament.
For the Melbourne City forward, who was substituted in place of captain Sam Kerr, it was a special moment for years of perseverance.
“To make my debut, it feels great. It's just such an honour,” McNamara said. “[I’m] so grateful for everyone who supported me and given me the opportunity to do this.”
It’s been a whirlwind fortnight for McNamara who in quick succession received her first senior national team call up, was named to her first squad and received her first international cap.
“These two weeks has been quite crazy. It's been quite a shock and a little bit overwhelming, but I'm just glad to be here and I'm very happy.”
“It means everything. It's been such a dream for me to make that cap. Playing as a little kid with the boys, I always dreamed of being a Matilda, even though sometimes I did think it was a bit out of reach.”
At the other end of the spectrum in terms of AFC Women’s Asian Cup and international experience is Ellie Carpenter. The defender found herself on the scoreboard on Friday afternoon with her first international brace.
Reflecting on the match, Carpenter spoke about the importance of the victory in terms of setting up the Commonwealth Bank Matildas for the remainder of tournament play.
“I think it's very important to set the tone early,” said the 21-year-old. “We spoke about this at the beginning of the tournament and some tournaments we haven’t had the best of starts. This was one big thing for us that we really wanted to do.”
“I think it's very important for us to be ruthless yesterday, and to get those final third shots in and to be clinical. I think it's very important to get that confidence in these early games so come the semi-final and final, we know we can finish those chances and get that repetition.”