The Matildas played Germany in a friendly the other night, but to write about that would fail to address one of the best questions heading into the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. That is, what is going to happen to Lisa De Vanna?
See, the thing about De Vanna is that she is supernaturally talented, a brilliant striker with a turn of pace that leaves most defenders dizzy. The 25-year-old is currently one of the most experienced Matildas, having played professionally overseas for years.
But she’s not exactly a team player.
Prone to temper tantrums on the pitch, last year De Vanna was suspended for giving her Westfield W-League Perth Glory coach John Gibson a spray and then gave the fans at her home ground the finger.
At a game I watched in Canberra, she was so frustrated by her team’s performance, she stormed off the field at half time, ahead of everyone else. She then returned after the break a good five minutes after the team, missing the warm-up. It wasn’t surprising when she was dragged shortly after.
It’s not something new, she’s always been something of an enigma. In a story by Jessica Halloran in Fairfax newspapers during the last World Cup, in 2007, Alistair Edwards, who coached De Vanna for years in Perth, said there was a touch of Diego about her.
“She’s like Maradona. He was high maintenance … maybe it’s because these players are so talented that we mere mortals can’t understand them,” Edwards said.
“She goes from being the most committed person to ‘I don’t give a shit’ kind of attitude.”
He goes on to say, “It’s worth it when you see how she performs in these major tournaments.”
The question is heading into Germany, is it really going to be worth it?
De Vanna broke her left leg in the group stages of the Asian Cup this year. She has since been back and playing in the professional American WPS league for Washington. But what that injury does to her speed and confidence is yet to be tested in the Matildas environment, as De Vanna’s American season ran too late for selection on the Peace Cup/Germany tour.
Then there is the fact that last night in Wolfsburg, the Matildas scored one goal against the current FIFA World Cup champions.
It came through Sam Kerr, a nimble-footed West Australian with acceleration to burn and a nose for goal.
Last year, despite missing half the season because of Australian under-17 representative duty, Kerr was named players’ player at the W-League awards. She’s only 17, but she’s got star striker written all over her.
Almost four years ago in China, De Vanna was played as a super sub off the bench. Extremely effectively might I add, she ended-up in the FIFA All-Star team for that World Cup. But can she do the same role now, and can she still do it better than Sam Kerr?
It’s going to make for a compelling story, whichever way it finishes.