Injured Matildas defender Elise Kellond-Knight is confident in Australia’s ability to claim the bronze medal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Saturday evening. And she also has a big question over Sweden.
After being eliminated from contention for the top prize when England ended the Matildas’ fairytale run with a 3-1 win on Wednesday night, the Aussies will now face Sweden for third place.
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Sweden are perennial tournament bridesmaids, with their shattered captain Kosovare Asllani lamenting – after her team’s 2-1 semi-final loss to Spain – that she was “so tired of crying championship tears”.
They are also familiar opponents to the Matildas, having knocked Gustavsson’s side out in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics, as well as facing Australia on three other occasions in recent years.
But Kellond-Knight believes the Swedes lack the steel to defeat the Matildas.
Elise Kellond-Knight thinks Sweden has a big chink in their armour. Credit: Seven/Getty Images
“Everyone is a winner (in Sweden) and having that mentality as a kid going through your youth processes, you don’t have that added dog edge to you and that’s what you need. You need the killer instinct,” she said.
“It’s a mentality thing. I spoke about this on the Seven commentary. Both teams get a player of the match.
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“They’re a socialist country where everything is OK and everyone wins at the end of the day … and I think just not having that added mentality we see with the Americans or the champion teams, they are missing that link.
“I think that is what has caused them to fall short.”
The value of the tournament’s penultimate match, which will be held at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, is often debated.
England delighted in claiming third place in 2015 but, after losing to Sweden four years later, then-coach Phil Neville declared it a “nonsense game”.
The Matildas should have what it takes to down Sweden in the third-place playoff. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
The Matildas have made it clear they consider the Sweden clash a genuine bronze-medal match.
“I know we’re emotional, but we have no time to dwell on this one. We have a bronze-medal game to play. We need to be ready,” coach Tony Gustavsson said.
“(Sweden) have 24 hours on us in terms of recovery, which might play a massive part of that game.
“But tonight also, we had 30 minutes more in the legs (than England) for extra-time last game – but that didn’t show in the second half of this game.
“So we’re tough. We’re fit. We dig deep. We have the support from the fans.”
– With AAP.