Matildas’ World Cup exit is no disgrace; let’s avoid knee-jerk reactions | Richard Parkin


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Ante Milicic was playing with the cards FFA dealt him and Australian fans should take a deep breath

For a deflated Ante Milicic post-match, the Matildas’ round of 16 elimination was the kind of kick in the teeth that makes you question your involvement in football. “I’ve been involved with games as a player, a coach, sitting at home watching games and I won’t fall in love with the game after tonight,” the coach said. “Gee that’s hurt me.”

As World Cup exits go it was particularly devastating. Here is a group of players, beloved for their ability to persevere irrespective of the off-field dramas threatening to engulf them; a coach considered one of Australia’s most promising; and a captain, a genuinely world-class striker, looking to drag Australia with her to the apex of world football.

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Matildas bow out having failed to capitalise on glimmers of promise | Ella Reilly


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The stark reality of tournament football will show the Matildas failed to match their performance in 2015

In the end, it wasn’t defensive jitters that felled Australia’s hopes of World Cup glory. While the Matildas had some semblance of luck during the 120 minutes of normal and then extra-time – Norway hit the crossbar and side netting, and a rebound off the inside of an upright rolled out rather than in – it seemed possible that the Matildas might have just enough to see them through to the quarter-finals. Yet this good fortune ultimately could not extend to the cruelty of a penalty shootout.

The stark reality of tournament football will show that the Matildas have failed to better their performance. It also shows that the side fell to European opposition once again. In their last three games against European countries (Norway, Continue reading “Matildas bow out having failed to capitalise on glimmers of promise | Ella Reilly”

‘It sucks to go out on penalties’: Matildas rally round Sam Kerr after shootout miss


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Matildas skipper Sam Kerr has vowed to come back stronger after her penalty shocker in Australia’s World Cup loss to Norway. With the scores level at 1-1 after extra time, Kerr stepped up for Australia’s first penalty of the shootout against the Scandinavians only to send it high and wide.

Related: Norway break Australia’s hearts in Women’s World Cup last-16 shootout

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Norway 1-1 Australia (4-1 on pens): Women’s World Cup player ratings | Molly Appleton


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Lydia Williams stood out for the Matildas while Caroline Graham Hansen proved her status as one of the best players in the world

Lydia Williams

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Norway break Australia’s hearts in Women’s World Cup last-16 shootout


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  • Australia miss first two spot kicks as Norway keep cool
  • Matildas finish with 10 players after Alanna Kennedy red card

Some games of football need only a single error, a single moment of brilliance to decide them. Others can feast on a cornucopia of chances yet never be sated. In Nice, Australia and Norway were two teams whose refusal to lose was only matched by an equally fervent reluctance to win.

It was fitting perhaps that a winner was found via the lottery of penalties – Norway’s were taken with aplomb while Australia’s were erratic and anxious. In the decisive moment, up strode Ingrid Engen and the team that has featured in the final four of one in every two World Cups claimed its birthright.

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Norway beat Australia on penalties in Women’s World Cup last 16 – as it happened


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Matildas’ favourites tag makes Norway World Cup clash even trickier | Richard Parkin


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Australia’s players cannot afford to focus on anything other than the match in Nice despite a temptation to look further ahead

Like any metric Fifa rankings are a crude measure best taken with a sack of salt. A fleeting look at the women’s rankings tells you sixth v 12th should be, if not a fait accompli, then at the least a pretty sure thing.

How then to interpret the relative strength of the test posed by Norway on Saturday, and the importance of this game for Australian football?

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Disciplined Norway pose major threat to Matildas’ World Cup hopes | Richard Parkin


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Ante Milicic has urged his team to embrace a proactive attacking style, but they could encounter their perfect nemeses in Nice

Despite its global popularity, football remains inflected by regional influences. A most Scandinavian team in its style of play, Norway, under their Swedish coach Martin Sjögren, are therefore well-organised, disciplined, and team-focused.

With most of the pre-tournament focus surrounding a player who isn’t in France in a playing capacity, Ada Hegerberg, those that are have been galvanised into an even closer-knit group. Which isn’t to suggest this team is without stars.

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Plenty of room for improvement as Matildas turn attention to Norway | Richard Parkin


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Nothing but a complete performance – in defence, midfield and attack – will be enough in the World Cup knockout stage

In terms of the spectacle, you could not have asked for more from Australia’s 4-1 win over Jamaica. A pulsating end-to-end clash, enlivened by spells of break-neck attacking intent, slick interplay in midfield, and committed recovery in defence. For opposition video analysts however, the Matildas showed plenty to cause consternation, but offered equally as much to raise hopes.

Ahead of the Brazil clash Ante Milicic was at pains to point out the need for his side to control tempo against an opponent that could be dangerous on the counter-attack. Despite identifying this, the match went end-to-end. Against Jamaica, a team blessed with remarkable individuals irrespective of the lack of preparation that dogged the collective, Australia again failed to maintain sustained possession, dictate the tempo, and exert calm game management Continue reading “Plenty of room for improvement as Matildas turn attention to Norway | Richard Parkin”

Sam Kerr goal-fest draws plaudits as other qualities shine through | Ella Reilly


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The Matildas captain became the first Australian to score a World Cup hat-trick but her leadership is just as important as the goals

When Sam Kerr scored her and the Matildas’ fourth in Grenoble to ultimately guarantee the progression from Group C, she didn’t immediately run to her teammates, as she had done for her previous goals. Nor did she perform a trademark backflip. This time, she stood staunch. Fists clenched, she roared. And as she jogged back to towards halfway, her fist pounded the Australian crest on her shirt.

Kerr leads the Matildas in many ways. Her own meteoric rise within the ranks of the game’s best strikers has helped drive the Matildas to the brink of world football’s elite. She is a player driven by her love for her team, and her team is driven by her love for it.

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Jamaica 1-4 Australia: Women’s World Cup player ratings | Sarah Groube


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Sam Kerr, with four goals, was the standout performer in Grenoble, but the Matildas have work to do in other areas

Lydia Williams

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Sam Kerr nets four as Australia qualify for Women’s World Cup last 16


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  • Swing in goal difference puts Matildas through in second
  • Brazil beat Italy 1-0 in other Group C encounter

It took Sam Kerr 10 World Cup games to find her first goal, but over 90 pulsating minutes in Grenoble the Matildas’ talisman fashioned four more – a first ever World Cup hat-trick for an Australian – to help her side secure second place in Group C and an appointment with Norway in Nice.

Related: Jamaica v Australia: Women’s World Cup 2019 – live!

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Jamaica 1-4 Australia: Women’s World Cup 2019 – as it happened


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Matildas faced with tricky balancing act as World Cup group stage reaches end | Richard Parkin


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Qualification in the best possible position from Group C is the ultimate goal but other factors are at play against Jamaica

“As we stand here today, we haven’t qualified for the next round, let’s not forget that. We need to win a game of football against Jamaica and we will see where the path takes us.” With a myriad of permutations open to the Matildas, coach Ante Milicic is trying to keep things simple against a tricky opponent, irrespective of current placings.

Jamaica’s prospects of progressing are slim – yet within that dangerous sweet-spot of being remote enough that any burden of expectation is off – but not entirely impossible and a surprise early goal or VAR intervention the Reggae Girlz could yet pose headaches.

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“Lottery of permutations”: Matildas can still finish top or bottom of pool at Women’s World Cup


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Depending on results, Australia’s Matildas can still finish first, second, third or fourth in their pool with one match remaining

Montpellier or Nice, Grenoble or Le Havre. 22 or 23 or 25 June.

For traveling Matildas supporters, trying to anticipate where they should be for the Round of 16 is a logistical nightmare. And that’s before you contemplate the unthinkable: with a loss against Jamaica (by a margin of +4) Australia could yet finish last in Group C and face group stage ignominy not experienced since 2003.

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Matildas show resilience in face of adversity both on and off the pitch | Joey Peters


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So far this World Cup Sam Kerr’s side have proved they are capable of adapting to whatever is thrown at them

You win some, you lose some. It’s what I used to say to the Under-9s team I coached. But I was talking as much to myself and the parents as to the kids. No one likes losing. Losing’s not why you play sport. Yet losing can be a major lesson in life. How you lose and how you respond to setbacks tells us a lot about what you are made of. Do you learn from mistakes, embrace critique, adapt and move forward? Or do you stick stubbornly to what you’ve always done and ignore there’s a problem at all?

After the Matildas lost their first World Cup game to Italy and then went two down against Brazil, we saw what they’re truly made of. It’s called toughness. Resilience Continue reading “Matildas show resilience in face of adversity both on and off the pitch | Joey Peters”

FFA confirm Socceroos to play at next year’s Copa América


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  • Qatar also invited to South American tournament
  • Graham Arnold: ‘We crave these opportunities’

The Socceroos will broaden their horizons next year after accepting an invitation from the South American confederation, Conmebol, to take part in the 2020 Copa América in Argentina and Colombia.

It is the first time Australia will participate in the quadrennial South American tournament which, unlike the Asian Cup or European Championships, invites two teams from outside the continent.

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Matildas issue bullish retort to critics with comeback win over Brazil | Ella Reilly


This post is by Ella Reilly at Stade de la Mosson from Football | The Guardian


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The force of will to pull back a two-goal deficit signals a turning point in Australia’s World Cup campaign

Sweat dripping, adrenaline coursing, a wry smile sambaing across her face, Sam Kerr issued her post match reaction. “I’m so proud of the girls, we knew we were in it at half-time. And, you know, there was a lot of critics talking about us. But we’re back. So suck on that one”.

If ever a game could constitute a retort as bullish as the one issued by Australia’s victorious captain, it was this. While the critics were determined to use Sunday’s defeat to Italy as grounds to recourse to off-field politics and controversies, the Matildas were determined to use the devastation of that loss as grounds upon which to assert their strength of character. In a game backdropped by swirling media narratives and the Continue reading “Matildas issue bullish retort to critics with comeback win over Brazil | Ella Reilly”

Monica’s controversial own goal seals Australia’s comeback against Brazil


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A much-vaunted Australian side recovered from the threat of group stage ignominy in a match featuring five goals, VAR, a comeback from 2-0 down and champion players inspired by enmity for each other.

Related: Australia 3-2 Brazil: Women’s World Cup 2019 – live!

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Australia 3-2 Brazil: Women’s World Cup player ratings


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Elise Kellond-Knight and Chloe Logarzo were excellent as the Matildas kept their campaign alive with a comeback win over Brazil

Lydia Williams

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