The Matildas are poised to eclipse the Socceroos

Albert Namat Roar Rookie

By Albert Namat, Albert Namat is a Roar Rookie

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    This week, the Matildas pierced the Australian sporting public’s consciousness.

    Over 30,000 people at the grounds and a healthy TV audience saw two thrilling team performances that reflected the ‘Australian way’ of playing football: technically adept, uncompromising and dominant.

    The development of the Matildas into a team that can be the best in the world has been one of incremental improvement over the past decade, but since the Rio Olympics, the team has taken some giant strides.

    I put it down to seven factors.

    A genuine superstar
    Representative of the quantum leap in the team is the jewel in the crown: Sam Kerr.

    Agile, fast, and excellent at reading the game, she is the new face of the game in Australia. A world player of the year in waiting.

    Blooding young talent
    Kudos to the coaching staff of this team and of teams past in introducing teenagers into the cauldron of qualifying and tournament football, the fruits of which are now being shown.

    An unassuming coach who learns from his mistakes
    Alen Stajcic is the national coach who is executing the style of football that, as fans, we want to see – and he’s getting results.

    From a side without the legs to run out the end of games at the 2015 World Cup to one that rolls over the opposition, the Matildas are well placed for an assault on the World Cup and Olympic titles in the next three years.

    The elements that stood out were patient but not ponderous build-up play, the awareness of space in midfield, dynamic movement off the ball giving options, the distribution to wide players, and the number and quality of opportunities in the front third.

    Team spirit
    We can only be outside observers, but the team spirit appears phenomenal. The players have experienced the on-field highs and lows as well as the solidarity forged by their pay dispute in 2015-6.

    The intensity of the pre-match huddle, as well as the unbridled joy displayed by playing, scoring and winning, suggest a team on the path to success.

    Fan support
    Although the ABC feed was cut seconds after the games’ end, it was reported that the Matildas’ interaction with fans at the grounds was a credit to them.

    One can imagine the games against China will generate a similar level of enthusiasm in Victoria, while tours next year by the our strongest rivals – the likes of the USA, Japan, England and Germany – would take fan support to new levels.

    The Matildas’ exposure may well be on an exponential path: players who become household names; World Cup and Olympic favouritism; a potential Woman’s World Player of the Year, and possibly a home World Cup.

    The public embrace of this team and the commercial media’s desire to jump on the bandwagon means that the Matildas are on the cusp of a new era.

    The Matildas are setting the standard in Australian football. Playing to their strengths. Playing with passion. Playing with skill.

    Socceroos, take note: no siege mentality, no surliness, no nonsense.

    The Socceroos' hopes of qualifying from the group stage at the World Cup are hanging by a thread after a 1-1 draw against Denmark. See how the match unfolded with our Australia vs Denmark match report, highlights and result.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am
      Fadida said | September 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      My thoughts on the current status on the men’s team have been made once or twice I think. Formation, selections and tactics are all open to criticism, results justify that. I do think we need to be careful though. Every article praising the women’s team doesn’t need to have a “if only the Socceroos…” addendum.

      The two teams and their results aren’t directly comparable. Praise for the Matildas doesn’t have to involve criticism for the Socceroos, who to a man certainly don’t lack effort (even Kruse in his own fall down and beg to the ref way) as many are suggesting. Without starting a gender debate, it is much easier to attack, and attack quickly when smaller and slower players result in much bigger space across the field. Talk that the Socceroos should adopt the same tactics as their female counterparts are naive.

      By all means praise the fantastic Matildas, discuss the merits of the two coaches, debate whether Stajcic is a worthy successor to Ange, but avoid using the relative success of one as a stick to beat the other (who have also been relatively successful).

      Oh and explain what you mean by “nonsense”.

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 7:45am
      me too said | September 22nd 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Fantastic stuff from the Matildas. Been good for a while now, but a real chance to join other codes in embracing a world champion. Planets don’t align too often, so hopefully the women can snag a world cup or olympic gold while this great team is together. Hopefully their success will rub off on the men as well and they can win world cup qualification.

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am
      CG2430 said | September 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Well said. (NB That’s a reply to Fadida – in case this comment ends up in the wrong spot).

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 9:06am
      Lionheart said | September 22nd 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      That’s a bit rough on the men. Different game, if you look closely. But well done to the Matildas.

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 11:55am
      Ken Spacey said | September 22nd 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      Without the collective strength of football, the Matildas cannot hope to keep rising. The one sport for all the family for all their life is the greatest strength of the game. Sure people get excited and a bit OTT but the Matildas need the Socceroos and vice versa. As a fan of the game and it’s progress we don’t need any more divides. It may be in the interests of people who don’t have the games best interests at heart to push this line. At one time the Hockeyroos were the greatest Oz rep team but as their dynasty faded the men stepped up to keep media and public interest strong. I also feel their is a lot of work to do and Stajic might note that under his watch the shock goal conceded inside five minutes of Kick Off is unacceptably high at this level. The Matildas should aspire to out perform the Socceroos but their real rivals are other sports.

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 12:23pm
      nevyn said | September 22nd 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

      It’s re-writing history to suggest that the progress has largely been between the Rio Olympics and the recent games at the Tournament of Nations and the series against Brazil. This progress has been going on for the past decade and the biggest factors in this progress have been:

      W-League – having a national league for our players to showcase themselves not only for the national team but in search of contracts overseas has been invaluable. The increase in standard of the league and quality of the imports coming here has been a testament to that.

      Alan Stajic’s – he overhauled the team and how we played, improving our pressing, fitness and approach which has seen us match it with the best in the world.

      Tom Sermanni – he built the program up over a long period of time, Stajic has taken it to the next level but Sermanni was responsible for setting the wheels in motion. I think this team is benefitting from the groundwork he did to build up the program.

      Matilda’s players being recognised as valuable imports overseas – In the recent past there were only a handful of Matilda’s playing overseas at the top level, now we have more than half the team plaing in the top leagues of Japan, Norway, Germany and the US. The exposure of our players to top level football on a regular basis has seen them improve from simply raw talent to become world class.

      Sam Kerr has benefited from this more than anyone else, she used to be ONLY about pace but spurned more chances than she took (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve held my head in my hands after seeing Sam miss a 1 v 1 in the W-League), her exposure to top level coaching and high quality opposition has polished her game and we’re seing a true superstar emerge because of it.

      I agree with most of the sentiment above though, you can’t criticise the Socceroos in that way, they have undergone their own revamp and only recently we were lauding Ange for their performances at the Confederation Cup. They will bounce back.

      • September 22nd 2017 @ 12:38pm
        Lionheart said | September 22nd 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

        good comment there nevyn. Thanks.

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