With the Matildas out of FIFA Women’s World Cup contention, Australia’s sights turn to the bronze medal match against Sweden on Saturday.
Despite the delight of the nation at seeing skipper Sam Kerr play the full 90 minutes in the semi-final loss to England, there are still some players who face the prospect of failing to play a single minute of the tournament.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Fresh look at Sam Kerr’s stunning goal from a different angle.
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The coach’s faith in his top-liners, and seeming lack of trust in his bench, has become clear.
Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Clare Hunt and Ellie Carpenter were run ragged, while Mary Fowler, Alanna Kennedy and Hayley Raso also featured heavily.
Gustavsson deployed 16 of his 20 outfield players – but Tameka Yallop, Alex Chidiac and Charli Grant were barely used, while Cortnee Vine’s minutes decreased as the tournament progressed.
Aivi Luik and Alex Chidiac after the loss to England. Credit: Getty Images
Chidiac, frequently cited as a “game changer” by her coach, wasn’t brought on until Australia were already down 3-1 on Wednesday.
Midfielder Clare Wheeler, full-back Courtney Nevin, defender Aivi Luik and the contentiously selected Kyah Simon, still recovering from a knee injury, haven’t played a minute.
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Channel 7 commentator and Matildas veteran Elise Kellond-Knight said it’s unlikely we will see those players get minutes against Sweden.
“If we’re 3-0 up and cruising to a finish. Absolutely. But this is a monumental moment for us and there will be no token debuts,” she said on Seven’s FIFA Women’s World Cup highlights show.
“It would be great to see everyone go on that pitch but unfortunately 11 starts, five subs means everyone is not going to get on on Saturday.”
Coach Tony Gustavsson also highlighted the importance of performing at their peak on Saturday.
“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 Gustavsson said after the devastating semi-final loss.
“(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