The Young Matildas gave themselves every chance to progress from Group A of the Women’s World Cup in their 3-1 victory over hosts Costa Rica, but ultimately fell short after being outclassed by the youth of powerhouses Brazil and Spain.

It was a tournament that had all the usual facets of an Australian side on the world stage: overachievement for underdogs but ultimately short of progression, exciting talent emerging, but also questions on depth.

Former Matilda Grace Gill, a squad member at the 2006 U20 World Cup in Russia, has told Box2Box it’s important to keep the ability of opponents in perspective when assessing the tournament, and that plenty will be taken from the experience regardless of the 2-0 & 3-0 score lines endured.

‘Brazil are a world class side and some of the talent they have in that team is a cut above the rest. They’ve been recently crowned champions of the U20 Copa America where they didn’t concede a goal, so we’re not the only side that has struggled against them.

‘Similarly, Spain are quality. [We were] 2-0 down after 20 minutes as they are just so clinical in the final third, and I think that’s part of the Young Matildas that will develop, but certainly the experience for that group of girls will be invaluable, and really memorable as well for them in their careers to come.

Leah Blayney’s side looked fit and fired up in their opening match, composing themselves after conceding an extraordinary goal through no fault of their own to net three of their own against Costa Rica.

Blayney made no change to her starting eleven between the first and second game and made just three changes for the third, with the side looking like they’d spent their tickets by the time the crucial third game rolled around.

‘Tournament football is really tough in managing load when the games are 72 hours apart, and particularly in the Brazil game when playing in monsoonal conditions with heavy legs. It would have been taxing for the girls that played 90 minutes or close to it against Costa Rica and Brazil.

‘There’s a fine balance in trying to strike a bit of continuity in your squad, but also recognising some of the key areas where lots of kilometres are clocked and rotating a bit more through there. We recently saw at the Women’s Euros, Sarina Wiegman play a consistent squad across the championship winning England team, so you can see both sides of the story.’

Blayney was without senior Matildas Mary Fowler, Courtney Nevin and Kyra Cooney-Cross, all three of whom would have walked into the starting lineup but were not released by their clubs. In their absence shone Daniela Garlic and Sarah Hunter, with Gill expecting both to enjoy long international careers.

‘Galic at freshly sixteen-years old is a real pup but I’d watched her earlier in the year against New Zealand’s Junior Football Ferns and she stood out then. She came up through the NSW football institute… she’s very technical for a young player with an excellent touch. Against Costa Rica, she did shine.

‘Sarah Hunter is key, she’s a lynchpin in this squad…she works really hard and is also very technically gifted. She’s had a great season at Sydney FC and when you look at the balance across this squad she’s definitely got an edge.

‘Similarly to Galic she will be involved in junior and senior women’s football in Australia for years to come, and I’m sure she’s keen to have another really strong season here domestically.’