Injured Matildas defender Elise Kellond-Knight is backing Australia to have the edge over England in their FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final after the latter beat Colombia in the quarter-final through “pure luck”.
England booked their spot in the last four with a 2-1 win over the South American nation last Saturday, before the Matildas followed suit with their heart-stopping penalty shootout win over France just hours later, setting up a blockbuster clash between the two countries on Wednesday night in Sydney.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Elise Kellond-Knight says England’s goals against Colombia were ‘pure luck’.
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
Previewing the game between the Matildas and Lionesses, Channel 7 commentator Kellond-Knight said it would help Australia that so many of their players play their club football in the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England, alongside many of their Wednesday night opponents.
“I think that’s an advantage for us, the fact that a lot of our girls play over in England in the WSL,” Kellond-Knight said.
“But also, I was just watching the highlights of (England’s win over) Colombia, and they were kind of lucky; the two goals England scored, that was pure luck.
“So, I think maybe going into this game, they will run out of that luck, we hope.
“To win a World Cup, you need a large portion of fortune and, when the ball bounces your way on the night, it happens for you, and I think that’s what happened in their game (against) Colombia, and I hope that’s what happens for us.”
Anthony Albanese’s shock backflip on Matildas call
Matildas coach makes last-minute Sam Kerr decision
Elise Kellond-Knight says England’s goals against Colombia were ‘pure luck’. Credit: Channel 7
Football journalist Adam Peacock was taken aback by the bold comment.
“Good evening to the Lionesses, if you’re watching on in your team hotel,” Peacock said with a smile.
Fellow former Matilda Grace Gill was slightly more circumspect in her assessment.
“In April, overseas, we beat England, but you can only take so much from what is a friendly game and you need to be able to refocus in tournament mode,” she said.
“(They’re now) very, very different teams; England have changed things a lot in their formation and their personnel for a number of reasons.
“And the Matildas, for the most part, as we’ve seen, have been really consistent with minutes, with formation, with players in positions. So, I’m so intrigued.”
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold says the Matildas truly believe this is their time. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
The Matildas though are ready for the biggest game Australian football has ever experienced.
And if you ask goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, they’ve been ready for some time.
A run of friendly wins against fellow semi-finalists England, Spain and Sweden, and vanquished quarter-final opponent France preceded Australia’s golden run on home soil — most of which has been without skipper Sam Kerr.
It’s given them the belief they can go all the way.
“I remember coming in after the French game, the friendly before the World Cup, and we were all in the change room and Sam said ‘I think this is a time now that we’re all really together and like this is the time that we can really believe that we can go all the way,’” Arnold told reporters.
“Because we’d just come off beating England, Spain, France and all these top teams that maybe we hadn’t done in the past.
“Just everyone’s confidence radiated off each other and being together and believing in each other, no matter who’s starting, who’s coming on, whatever it is — I think that’s just really gone a long way in the confidence for everyone.”
Gustavsson and Arnold spoke to media ahead of the semi-final. Credit: Andy Cheung/Getty Images
Both teams have batted away talk of rivalry, but England have followed France in attempting to pile the pressure on Australia as the hosts.
“I’ve said it from day one: we actually don’t look at it as pressure. We look at it as a privilege that so many people believe in this team,” Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said.
“And we feel the support — we’re filled with energy every time, whether it’s arriving at the hotel, or coming to an airport, going to the stadium or when we play during games.
“It’s amazing to see how many people support and believe in this team and in that sense we’re looking at more as fuel and energy than pressure.
“We don’t look at it as heavy, we look at it as we get carried from underneath and built up and feel the belief in us.”
– With AAP
Touching reason ‘adopted Australian’ has pledged Matildas allegiance
‘Extraordinary drama’ sends Spain through to FIFA Women’s World Cup final
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.