WWC 2015: Ex-Matildas Expert Opinion

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The Matildas’ incredible run has seen the entire nation become caught-up in Women’s World Cup excitement. With that in mind we figured it was time for us to go out and get some opinions from people who can actually kick a ball. We found three former Matildas and harassed them until they spilled their expertise.

We speak to three former Matildas on Australia’s performance so far

Ashley Brown

Former Matilda and current Melbourne Victory forward who once kicked a ball so hard it split into two parts and disintegrated.

How have the Matildas been going so far?

“They’ve been fantastic and I think they’ve surprised everyone. Full credit to them they’ve played well especially in the first halves – in the United States game they had more shots on goal and more shots on target in that first 45 and they’re one of the best teams out there.”

Have you seen any weaknesses so far?

“They’re pretty strong in all their lines so I think the biggest thing for them is to keep up their performances in the second half as they seem to drop off. Maybe its fitness or it might just be because of how hard they’re working.”

Who has stood out so far?

“Emily van Egmond has been the star for me so far. Caitlin Foord has also been going really well in both attack and defence and Mini (Katrina Gorry) has also been excellent in the middle of the park.”

What do they need to do to get a result against Brazil?

“They’re going to need to go out there and have one of their best performances ever and everything needs to go to game plan. They’ve definitely got the quality to get the win they just need to stay composed and go out there and do it.”

Can they win the World Cup?

“Yes, I actually do believe they can win the whole thing. I find it so satisfying to sit there and watch them play and they’re doing so well that they’ve got me believing that they can do it.”

Leah Blayney

Former Boston Breaker and Matildas legend who is far more warm and welcoming than her surname namesake.

What have you made of the Matildas so far?

“They’ve been doing really well and it’s obvious there has been a lot of attention paid to their preparation and that’s helped them come together as a team. You can see that Alen Stajcic has them working well together and that’s seen some excellent combinations develop, especially in the attacking third.”

Where do you think they could come undone?

“We’ve been very sound defensively despite there being some concern before the start of the tournament. We’ve drawn Brazil for the next game and their attacking flair is certainly no secret. So the girls are going to have to remain defensively sound and if they can do that the midfield and front thirds will be able to continue to shine.”

Are there any players that have stood out to you?

“Emily van Egmond has had a super tournament so far. She was a teammate of mine at Canberra when she was a younger kid and it’s been great to see her go from being an up-and-coming player to really stamping her authority on the international stage. It was also good to see Lydia Williams return from injury and she’s been playing really well, it looks like she hasn’t really had any time off.”

What do they need to do to get result against Brazil?

“If they’re clinical in the front third they should have a good chance. Sam Kerr has been quite lively and if she’s on her game and combine well with whoever plays up-front, whether that be Kyah Simon or Michelle Heyman and they’re clinical in with their finishing we should be able to get a result against Brazil.”

Last and most important question, can they win it all?

Absolutely, without a doubt. I think what we’ve shown so far probably isn’t even our full potential and the longer they stay in the tournament the more we’ll see out of the Matildas.”

Hayley Crawford

Newcastle Jet and former Matilda – former TFS columnist too!

What have you made of the Matildas so far?

“They’re going really well so far, I’ve been talking to Emily van Egmond and they’re all feeling really good. They drew a pretty tough group but they made it out and the style of play and brand of football they’ve been producing is excellent.”

Have you seen any frailties in their play?

“There were concerns about the changes in the backline with Clare Polkinghorne being injured, you don’t want to have to change up your backline very often. So it can make it hard when you have players who haven’t been playing in the same position consecutively but the girls that have been playing there have been do a decent job so far.”

Has anybody stood out to you so far?

“It sounds cliché but it’s been a really strong team performance and all the girls are playing really well. Emily has been outstanding so far and has been pretty much the heartbeat of the team and it shows even to the point where a guy who doesn’t know anything about football said to me “How good is that van Egmond”. Elise Kellod-Knight has also been fantastic in the number six role and Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord have been really good going forward.”

How do they beat Brazil?

“Caitlin is going to have a massive job on her hands to keep Marta quiet and she’ll be able to use her pace to do that. But they have dangerous players all over the park so it’s important that they stay compact in defence and work for each other behind the ball. When they do get the ball they need to use their pace to get it up front and hopefully Lisa and Kyah Simon can put them away.”

Can they win it all?

“Absolutely. Everybody had written them off and then in the first game they out-played the USA in the first half and while they didn’t get the result everybody realised how well they can actually play. If they can put in an effort like that for 90 minutes, they’re going to have the ability to do anything. They already have the belief and if they can get past Brazil then I’ll be backing them to go all the way.”

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