Australia and Sweden Seek Podium Finish After Semis Exits

Australia and Sweden will play for third place at Lang Park on Saturday, after both teams lost in the semi-finals at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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The Matildas lost 3-1 to England in Sydney, while Sweden were beaten 2-1 by Spain. England’s victory over Australia sets up a meeting with Spain in the Final.

Kerr’s Stunner Not Enough as England End Australia’s Run

Sam Kerr scores a worldie
Sam Kerr scores a screamer to level the match 1-1. Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

A sensational long-range strike from Matildas captain Sam Kerr was not enough to see Australia past England and into their first Women’s World Cup final. Kerr’s 20-metre screamer levelled the scores after England had taken a 1-0 lead in the matchup. However, goals from Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo put England back in front as the Lionesses held on for a 3-1 victory.

The loss ended Australia’s thrilling run through the knockout stage that saw them prevail on penalties against France. Despite their disappointment, the Matildas have surely inspired the nation with their performances.

Matildas Earn Plaudits Despite Defeat

Australia exits in the semis
Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

The Matildas have drawn praise for their efforts during the World Cup, overcoming adversity and captivating fans across the country. After initial concerns over Kerr’s fitness, the team rallied to escape the group stage before finding their form in the knockouts.

The support of the Australian public has been a bright spot for Kerr and her teammates. Record crowds have turned out to back the Matildas, underlining the growth of the women’s game.

Kerr Calls for Investment to Take Game to Next Level

After Australia’s semi-final defeat, Kerr stressed the need for more funding and resources to develop women’s football. She wants this World Cup to be the start of real change.

“We need funding in our development, we need funding in our grassroots… We need funding everywhere,” Kerr said.

Both Kerr and coach Tony Gustavsson emphasised that while the Matildas have made the most of their current resources, more investment is needed at the grassroots level for Australia to truly compete with the top women’s sides.

Gustavsson said: “Let’s invest more and be genuine contenders for medals and tournaments moving forward as well.”

The team hope their inspiring performances will lead to more support to take Australian women’s football to even greater heights

Read: Matildas Create History with Thrilling Penalty Shootout Win Over France

Kerr added that the tournament wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity despite the home advantage. “If you bring the product to Australia, we’ll go out there and support it. And hopefully, we’ve got a few more fans that will stick around.”

The team hopes their inspiring performances will drive increased support to take Australian women’s football to even greater heights. For now, the Matildas will look to finish their tournament on a high note against Sweden.

Published 17 August 2023

Matildas Create History with Thrilling Penalty Shootout Win Over France

Buoyed by a spirited home crowd at Lang Park, the Matildas etched their name into the annals of Women’s World Cup history with a nerve-wracking penalty shootout victory over France in the quarter-finals. Playing on home soil, Australia became the first host nation to reach the semi-finals since the USA in 2003.

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Shootout Drama Follows Tense 120 Minute Draw

Cortnee Vine
Cortnee Vine, the winning penalty shooter. Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

Normal time and extra time failed to produce a goal in the Brisbane Stadium clash between two formidable sides. Australia and France battled through a scoreless 90 minutes before two intense periods of extra time. Fatigue set in late on, and a shootout between the deadlocked sides seemed inevitable.

The shootout provided non-stop drama and set a record for the longest shootout in World Cup history for both men’s and women’s matches. Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made a crucial save from Selma Bacha’s opening effort to give France the early advantage. After a series of saves and misses, Australia’s 10th shooter, Cortnee Vine, slotted home the winning penalty as the home crowd went wild.

Semifinal Spot Creates Matildas Legacy

Mackenzie Arnold
Mackenzie Arnold was awarded Player of the Match for her crucial saves in the shooutout. Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

The victory sends Australia through to the semi-finals for the first time ever. They’ll face classic sporting rivals England, 2-1 winners over Colombia, at Stadium Australia on Wednesday.

Beyond this milestone, Australia’s World Cup run marks a watershed moment for women’s sport in the country.

Their penalty shootout victory attracted the biggest Australian TV audience since Cathy Freeman’s Olympic gold medal in 2000. The audience was reported to be the largest for more than two decades, averaging a staggering 4.23 million viewers. These figures do not include the throngs of fans who gathered in fan parks, pubs and around big screens to cheer on the Matildas.

John Aloisi, whose penalty in 2005 sent the Socceroos to their first World Cup since 1974, remarked: “This achievement will undoubtedly inspire future generations. That’s what the girls spoke about before the tournament, that’s what they’ve been speaking about during the tournament. And they’re living this moment.”

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Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

After years of heartbreak and falling just short, this victory propels the Matildas into uncharted territory. The demons of the past have been exorcised, the bitter memories of their devastating penalty shootout exit at the Round of 16 in France 2019 now a distant memory.

In the three World Cups prior to 2019, they reached the quarter-finals without fail, but progressed no further. The quarter-finals had long acted as the glass ceiling for the Tillies. Not anymore.

Published 14 August 2023