One final hurdle remains for the Young Matildas in the 2019 AFC U19 Women’s Championship qualifiers, after the squad – boasting Novocastrian starlet Annalee Grove in its midst – downed Hong Kong 3-0 to close out the first round of major qualifiers.

The young Australians dominated in style as they faced Mongolia, Lebanon and finally Hong Kong, scoring 23 unanswered goals to top their section of the qualifications, and put themselves in the drivers seat for the AFC Championships, as well as a potential 2020 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup berth.

While Grove was involved in the latest stage of the qualification process, other Hunter talents have also had major impact in earlier sections of the tournament – Josie Morley ran rampant with two hat-tricks and eight goals in the last leg of qualifiers, while Ruby Jones, Kirsty Fenton and Teagan Douglas all played key roles alongside her.

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In the most recent match against Hong Kong, a first-half brace to Amy Sayer got the girls on their way, before a 63rd minute strike from Aoife Colvill put the result beyond doubt.

Australia took a comfortable lead into the break off the back of Sawyer’s two-goal haul, but continued to build momentum after half time. Victory over Hong Kong was all but sealed in the 63rd minute when Colvill ghosted in at the far post to hammer the ball home.

The Young Matildas will now play a second round of qualifiers in 2019 for their chance at playing in the 2019 AFC U19 Women’s Championship in Thailand.

Nepal, Uzbekistan, Korea Republic, Vietnam and the Islamic Republic of Iran also confirmed their places in the second round of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers as respective group winners, and will join Lebanon and Myanmar in the next stage of the process.

The qualifying campaign consists of two rounds. In the Qualifiers Round 1, the group winners and two best second-placed teams will progress to Round 2 where the top four teams will then advance to the finals.