Mackenzie Arnold was impossible to crack in front of goals during the Matildas’ FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final thriller with France last weekend, and she was no different speaking to media on the eve of Australia’s semi-final with England.
Arnold covered herself in glory during the quarter-final epic against the French, keeping a clean sheet during 120 minutes of regular time, despite a number of flying shots on target that were rocketed at her.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Mackenzie Arnold puts English reporter in his place.
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She then made three clutch saves during a nail-biting penalty shootout that was finished off by Cortnee Vine’s winner to secure a 7-6 victory and Australia’s best ever result at a football World Cup.
Speaking to reporters alongside coach Tony Gustavsson ahead of Wednesday night’s blockbuster semi-final with England, Arnold was again the star of the show.
Trying to stoke up the “rivalry” the two countries share in global sport generally, an English reporter went digging for a colourful response out of Arnold.
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“Mackenzie, both yourselves and England are playing down the rivalry that you were asked about a little earlier, but the truth is these two countries obviously have got a very traditional, longstanding sporting rivalry,” he started.
“I’m sure there are a lot of England fans back home that would quite enjoy seeing England knock you out of your own tournament — you may have fans and family who probably feel the opposite way around.
“But is the idea of being knocked out of this tournament, at this stage, with a final at stake, by England, almost unthinkable to you?” he finally asked.
Mackenzie Arnold took down an English reporter with a cold response. Credit: Optus Sport
What he got was an answer that had a complete absence of grey.
“I mean, being knocked out by anyone is kind of unthinkable,” she said with a face of stone.
“There are probably a lot of English people that would love to see us knocked out by England, but I think there are more Australians that would love to see England knocked out by us.”
The brutally cold response elicited a laugh from the rest of the room, as she continued: “In terms of the rivalry, again, we have such big rivalries with so many different countries, so it’s just another game for us.”
Mackenzie Arnold believes the Matildas can go all the way. Credit: Chris Hyde – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Following a run of friendly wins against fellow semi-finalists England, Spain and Sweden, and vanquished quarter-final opponent France, Arnold says the Matildas have the belief to go all the way, regardless of which team is in front of them.
“I remember coming in after the French game, the friendly before the World Cup, and we were all in the change room and Sam (Kerr) 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.
“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.”
Mel McLaughlin and broadcasting legend Bruce McAvaney are leading Seven’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with expert insight from Elise Kellond-Knight, Heather Garriock and more. Watch the Matildas and other key matches live and free on 7plus.