Michelle Heyman bagged four goals in the Matildas' rout of Uzbekistan - and she wasn't satisfied!
The late Johnny Warren once said, “I’m sick of us saying, ‘When are we going to qualify for the World Cup’? When are we going to win the World Cup?”
This author remembers that line very well when Warren was speaking to Les Murray on SBS in the early 2000s.
It was basically a message saying that all aspects of Australian football, both male and female, need to improve and not just settle for second best just by simply qualifying.
Warren had the belief that one day a football national team could be in a position of winning a football World Cup. Well, the Matildas are only three games away from becoming world champions. Do you share Warren’s belief?
The Australian women have faced three teams ranked in the top 10 in the USA, Sweden and Brazil and still progressed to the quarter-finals, which is an unbelievable effort.
Of course, it’s not the first time the Matildas have given joy to supporters back home. They won the 2010 Asian Cup and were runners-up at last year’s version.
The Matildas have some quality players that the opposition need to be fearful of. The clinical striking and finishing of captain Lisa De Vanna and Kyah Simon. Talented midfielder and 2014 AFC Player of the Year Katrina Gorry. Best young player of the 2011 World Cup, Caitlin Foord, and the industrious holding midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight.
In my opinion, Kellond-Knight has been Australia’s player of the tournament thus far. She not only protects her back four, but blocks passes and then starts the attack with quality distribution.
The female version of Vinnie Grella.
When this author heard a few mainstream news bulletins, it was reported that the Matildas pulled off the upset of the tournament by beating Brazil. However, prior to the World Cup, when you look at the world rankings, Brazil sat in seventh position, while the Matildas were ranked 10th, only three, not thirty spots behind.
So in essence, it shouldn’t be classified as an upset and therefore, the Australian media shouldn’t be selling the Matildas short.
The Australians are one of the best sides in the world. Certainly a far cry from when the Matildas were best known for a controversial nude calendar back in the year 2000.
The calendar caused a stir with some of the players posing completely nude in full frontal glaze. The cover of the nude calendar featured a topless player by the name of Amy Taylor.
ABC sports commentator Karen Tighe described the cover by saying, “She is a beautiful looking girl but there is a fine line between a tasteful representation of the human body and, for me, her’s is a very provocative pose that could have come out of Playboy. It’s a ‘Hi, come and get me’ sort of thing.”
In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, in the women’s football tournament, eight teams competed, with the host nation the Matildas finishing seventh.
While on the field the Matildas have improved greatly over the last 15 years, the same can not be said with regards to women’s football coverage.
Last year, the ABC announced budget and job cuts with the W-League competition among the unfortunate to be cut from the national broadcaster.
In the last couple of weeks, the Australian women have illustrated to the ABC and to everyone across the nation that they are a valued commodity as far as role models to young girls are concerned.
The W-League deseves to be shown by a TV network.
Getting back to the World Cup, which is being held in Canada, Australia face the defending world and asian champions, Japan in the quarter-finals. The winner of that match faces the winner of England versus Canada.
On the other side of the draw, the USA takes on China, while in the other quarter-final, France plays Germany.
At this stage of the tournament, all of the big guns are there and Australia is among them. Australia will not take a backward step as it was evidenced from game one.
In the first match of the tournament, Australia did very well in the first 60 minutes by being on level parity against the second ranked team, the USA. With a bit of luck, Australia may have got something out of that game, but instead USA’s experience got them over the line by winning 3-1.
In the Asian Cup last year, Australia played Japan on two occasions. In the group stage, Australia led 2-0 after 64 minutes before Japan hit back with two late goals to draw the match.
While in the final, Japan accounted for the Matildas 1-0. Just like the USA game at the World Cup, the Matildas could have easily got better results against Japan.
As we are in the knockout stages, the Matildas are outsiders for the title, while nations like Germany, USA and Japan are the favourites. However, anything can happen on the day.
The Matildas are good enough to continue the ride all the way to the final. Again, with a bit of luck, the Matildas can become world champions. You never know.
As Johnny Warren once said, “I told you so”.