Gill’s World Cup omission beggars belief

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Kate Gill would have had an inkling her spot in Australia’s World Cup squad was in jeopardy when she was overlooked for a fantasy team compiled by Matildas coach Alen Stajcic seven months ago.

In an interview with a women’s football website in early October following his appointment to the top job, Stajcic did not list Gill in either of his two most influential Westfield W-League sides.

It was a surprising and precarious omission given only Canberra’s Michelle Heyman has scored more W-League goals than the Perth Glory striker, who is also regarded in some circles as one of the game’s most professional players.

Gill answered any doubt about her standing in the women’s game later that week with a record five goals in Glory’s 10-1 rout of Western Sydney before going on to claim her second Golden Boot award in three seasons.

A panel of ten W-League writers from The Football Sack voted her Player of the Season from the most recent campaign and there was certainly no debate at this website as to who was the leading striker in the country.

However, it appears we were well off the mark – or at least as far as Stajcic is concerned.

Gill was a stunning omission from the squad of 23 for next month’s World Cup, along with young goalkeeper Brianna Davey.

Most football pundits were accepting of the fact Gill may see little game time in Canada as she has rarely featured in Stajcic’s starting sides at recent tournaments, including last year’s Asian Cup.

But to not be named at all is a huge shock and the 30-year-old is understood to be devastated as she comes to terms with the likelihood her international career may have come to an abrupt end.

Auckland-born, Newcastle-raised Gill has found the back of the net 40 times in her 83 international appearances to sit two goals clear of Cheryl Salisbury as the all-time leading scorer for the Matildas.

No player in Stajcic’s squad has a greater conversion rate per match than Gill and of the six forwards only Lisa De Vanna (33) has an individual goals tally in the same ballpark.

It has been suggested that Gill was overlooked because she is simply an out-and-out striker and lacks the defensive skills and nous required to play a key role in Stajcic’s game plan.

In all sports, what a class player lacks in one area is more than made up for in others and there are aspects of Gill’s game which are hard to replace, including her height and incredible aerial skills, not to mention her “telepathic” relationship with Perth teammates and fellow attackers Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord.

At 30, Gill is no spring chicken but is the same age as De Vanna and brings a wealth of experience to a squad containing only two players with more than 50 international caps.

Strong leadership has also been a quality that has defined Gill’s decade-long career in the green and gold.

Perth Glory coach Jamie Harnwell is on record as declaring the 2010 AFC Asian Women’s Player of the Year and the most professional player he has encountered in both his playing and managerial careers.

Gill is one of the most popular and revered individuals at Perth as well as rival W-League clubs, with players and coaches unreserved in their praise of the modest and typically unflappable striker.

It beggars belief that a player with her record and current form can be left out entirely and her omission has certainly sent shockwaves through the whole Australian football community.

If there is a rift between Stajcic and Gill, it is poor form on the coach’s part to overlook a player with a list of career highlights which reads longer than War and Peace.

Unfortunately for Gill, who will be 34 by the time the next World Cup rolls around, it appears she won’t get another chance to strut her stuff on the game’s biggest stage, having missed the 2011 edition due to a serious knee injury.

Hopefully this mind-boggling decision does not trap Gill into a premature retirement from domestic football and she once again proves her doubters wrong, even when she shouldn’t have to.

READ “THE TRUTH BEHIND GILL’S OMISSION” HERE.

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