Matildas will head out into the uncharted waters on Monday night, against Sweden in her first Olympic semi-final.
Here’s everything you need to know about our next game.
It’s been a week that no Australian football fan will ever forget. A host of world powers qualified for the playoffs and famously triumphed against all odds, defeating their historic athletic rivals Great Britain.
Matildas entered Kashima Stadium on Friday night knowing that not only the British but also history were their opponent. Never before had Australians reached the quarter-finals of an international tournament.
The European opposition also proved to be a difficult proposition, with Matilda’s recent victory over European opponents in a major tournament over 10 years ago, against Norway, at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Coach Tony Gustafson and his team needed a great scalp. Britain did its best.
Whether it’s Kennedy’s Olympic redemption, Kerr’s final goal, Tejan Mecha’s stunning brilliance on goal, Fowler’s golden moment or the final 10 minutes of a frantic defense, no one can deny that the quarter-finals will be just that. They had everything.
MORE: The Australian community celebrates Matildas’ historic quarter-final win
The history of Australian television sports was shattered last week as Matildas scored the highest scores for all Australian women’s team events during their confrontations with Sweden.
However, the quarter-final against Team GB was over half a million, with 2.24 million to see the team make history, with the vast majority completely entertaining.
Before the match in Great Britain, there was a lot of talk that Gustafson’s options, particularly Headache, should only choose one tree forward from the entire attack depth.
The roster of a seasoned trio of Foord, Simon and Kerr came as no surprise, and all three were known for their scoring influence in the big matches. Captain Kerr was an inspiration in both regular time and overtime, while Simon and Ford remained constant threats on the wings.
In the coming days, the question may arise how to deploy midfielder Mary Fowler against Sweden. Fowler came on as a substitute late in the second half and struggled tirelessly in the middle of the field before a moment of space was put to good use.
On the other hand, the team seems to be doing well without stopping the game in Sweden. Sweden convincingly won the quarter-finals, while Australia needed 30 minutes to determine the result.
It’s always difficult to come back after 120 minutes of effort, but coach Gustafsson believes the team will recover in time, with all kinds of science and experience to assist in the effort.
“You’re talking about a long game and extra time, I can’t help but give credit to our Sports Science team and our Sports Medicine team for all the prep work they did with the players.”
Can we name a game that took place in history less than two weeks ago? We certainly can.
The spirit we showed in our victory in Great Britain shows how far Matildas has come in this tournament. A lot has changed since we played with the Swedes at Saitama Stadium, the headgear was shattered and sports legends were born.
Our second match of the group against the Scandinavians gave us many lessons for the Australians on how to compete. In an active attempt to regain the lead early in the second half, Sweden was eventually forced to equalize and then take the lead when the Australians failed to capitalize and regain control.
When the ball fell to Sam Kerr at the end of the game in the UK, with a chance of a tie, thoughts must have turned to the missed opportunities in the match in Sweden. Sure enough, this was Australia’s chance to redeem itself and make a statement, and as it’s called “you can’t hold a legend for long”.
After losing the group match to the Swedes left many players collapsing and wondering what it would take to defeat such a great opponent, it would be understandable to slip into a shell. However, the spirit of continuing to fight when a new change occurs underscores the team’s belief and motto “Never Die”.
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