2010 breakthrough fresh in Matildas' minds

Kyah Simon fights for the ball in the 2010 Asian Cup final against N Korea played in pouring rain.
Kyah Simon fights for the ball in the 2010 Asian Cup final against N Korea played in pouring rain.

A decade since she wrote her name into Australian football history, the moment is still clear as day in Kyah Simon's mind.

Simon was 18 when she stepped up in the pouring rain and scored the penalty that handed Australian football its first silverware in Asia - the Women's Asian Cup - on May 30, 2010.

It took a mammoth effort to even reach the final.

The Matildas finished second in their group, losing to China but beating South Korea and Vietnam, teeing up a semi-final clash with powerhouse Japan.

With a guaranteed World Cup ticket at stake, they beat the Nadeshiko 1-0 courtesy of Kate Gill's first-half chip. Less than a year later, Japan would win the 2011 Women's World Cup.

The final against North Korea was a war of attrition in Chengdu.

Sam Kerr had scored her first international goal earlier in the tournament and coach Tom Sermanni named the 16-year-old to start in the final.

Just 19 minutes into the decider, Kerr scored the opener.

"Sammy always had potential - you always knew she was going to do something special," Gill told AAP.

"But at that age it was just raw ability, there wasn't much finesse or composure in front of goal - not to the level or class that she has now.

"So ... to see what was in the making, it was just fantastic."

North Korea responded through Jo Yun-mi in the 73rd minute and the game dragged through additional time, then into penalties.

"I remember that so vividly. It got to the end of extra time and we were all standing on the sideline of that pitch in China," Simon told AAP.

"The pitch wasn't the greatest, there was torrential rain as well, muddy boots - it felt like each boot had an extra kilo or two in them just from the waterlog in my socks.

"We were all standing there in a circle and Tommy rattled off the four people to take the four penalties and then he said 'does anyone want to take the fifth one?'

"There was a bit of a silence and I said 'yeah I'll take it' and I think there was a bit of hesitation from him because he didn't expect me to put my hand up.

"At the time I didn't actually realise as the fifth penalty taker, the game would rely on that kick.

"Standing on the halfway line with the girls, it was a bit nerve-wracking but I was just trying to focus on myself ... it felt like that time was going for a lifetime and then the rest just happened."

Sally Shipard powered home Australia's first spot-kick.

Then, captain and goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri watched Yun Song-mi put North Korea's second penalty wide of her left goal post, and things were in Australia's hands.

Kylie Ledbrook, Gill and Heather Garriock successfully dispatched their respective spot-kicks, opening the door for Simon to finish the job.

The teenager sauntered up to the spot, adjusted the ball and drove it into the top corner, sending her teammates into ecstasy.

"I got up to the spot, picked my spot and executed it how I wanted to," Simon said.

"I was just glad to see the water shattering off the back of the net and to turn around and have so much happiness and excitement and joy of all the girls running towards me.

"We did a bit of a stacks on - it was just a really memorable and exciting moment."

Simon, Kerr, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tameka Yallop and Lydia Williams are just some of those 2010 squad members who have gone on to become core senior Matildas, maintaining the "can beat anyone" mentality that bore fruit a decade ago.

The Matildas of 2010 arguably didn't receive the recognition they deserved for their breakthrough accomplishment, which came several years before women's sports exploded into the mainstream - and still hasn't been repeated.

There was little fanfare upon returning home - certainly nothing like the plaudits their Socceroos counterparts would receive nearly five years later.

There aren't many polished highlights on social media, with scratchy old videos the best way to re-live May 30, 2010.

But it's an achievement that lives long in the Matildas' memories.

"It's funny because we don't have that ability to re-live it. While it was a huge and massive achievement at the time, it wasn't in an era where a lot of attention was brought to it," Barbieri told AAP.

"We felt like we'd done something massive but then when we came back home it was almost 'ho hum, back to the humdrum of being a female footballer.'

"In the moment we knew what we had done because we had beaten some pretty big talents in that Japan team to actually qualify for the World Cup.

"Then the icing on the top was winning the final but we certainly didn't understand how good we were at the time until you look back on it."

Australian Associated Press