Australia believes they are one of the favorites going into the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. After getting eliminated by Japan in the quarterfinals at the 2015 Women's World Cup, Australia will try for their best finish ever. A sixth ranked Westfield Matildas find themselves in Group C with Italy, Brazil and Jamaica and will kickoff their tournament on June 9 against Italy.
The Matildas qualified for the World Cup by finishing as runner-up in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup against Japan. Head coach Alen Stajcic was all set to lead the Matildas to a World Championship but was sacked by Football Federation Australia months before the start of the World Cup. The controversial sacking was based on a confidential surveys with players and staff. Some players spoke publicly that they were surprised and condemned the sacking in support of Stajcic. The FFA would soon appoint former men’s assistant coach Ante Milicic to take over the helm as temporary head coach.
World Cup Preparations
Despite the controversial Stajic sacking, the Matildas captured the first Cup of Nations tournament against World Cup bound squads of New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina. Australia went 3-0-0 in the tournament outscoring the opposition 9-1. A month later, it was on to USA to faceoff against number one ranked USWNT. Despite scoring three times against the Americans, Australia were defeated by a 5-3 scoreline. The Americans were able to expose the lack of speed and high backline of Australia. The Matildas are currently preparing in Antalya, Turkey and will travel to the Netherlands for their last pre-tournament friendly on June 1.
Captain Sam Kerr will lead the Matildas
One of head coach Milicic’s first orders of business was naming Australia’s superstar striker Sam Kerr team captain. Kerr was recently named NWSL Player of the Week for the second week in a row before joining Australia in Turkey for World Cup preparations. The Chicago Red Stars striker will need to stay hot for Australia to make a deep World Cup run. Fellow forwards Caitlin Foord, Lisa de Vanna, Hayley Raso and Emily Gielnik will be upfront with Kerr to form a dangerous Australia attack. Midfielders Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond can link counter attacks to the quick forwards. Vice-captain Steph Catley should be ready to go by the start of the tournament. Veterans Clare Polkinghorne, Alanna Kennedy and rising star Ellie Carpenter will help shore up Australia’s backline. As long as Kerr and her fellow attackers continue putting the ball in the back of the net, Australia can make a deep run to become World Champions.
Goalkeepers: Lydia Williams, Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah.
Defenders: Gema Simon, Clare Polkinghorne, Laura Alleway, Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Ellie Carpeter, Teigen Allen.
Midfielders: Aivi Luik, Chloe Logarzo, Elise Kellond-Knight, Emily van Egmond, Tameka Yallop, Katrina Gorry, Amy Harrison.
Forwards: Caitlin Foord, Lisa De Vanna, Emily Gielink, Hayley Raso, Mary Fowler, Sam Kerr.