Australia vs Ireland: Women’s World Cup preview | Women’s World Cup News

When: Thursday, July 20
Where: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Start: 8pm (10:00 GMT)

If Australian captain Sam Kerr is to carry the burden of the nation’s expectations, he has done well not to let himself be disheartened by it.

The hosts open their much-anticipated campaign against the Republic of Ireland in front of a packed Australia Stadium in Sydney on Thursday.

Kerr, a Matildas player and hugely popular on the field, said going into the game that would kick-start his team’s journey in the competition seemed “impossible”.

“It’s really happening. All the preparation work that we have been doing for many years, all the days of hard work, and now it will come together in 24 hours,” he said in a pre-match press conference with coach Tony Gustavsson.

Kerr highlighted the Matildas’ versatility and ability to play in different positions as they won nine of their last 10 games, including a 1-0 win over France in a friendly last Friday and a 2-0 win over England in April that ended the Lionesses’ 30-game unbeaten run.

An estimated 83,000 people are expected for the games, Australia’s most important sports since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Kerr, 29, who played for Australia as a 15-year-old and is taking part in his fourth World Cup, said that instead of struggling, he and his teammates are embracing the support.

“I mean, Aussies love their sport, don’t they?” the Chelsea player said. “But being at home and feeling good, walking the streets and seeing people who are happy or flying around the country to see us, it’s good to feel the love.”

The Women’s World Cup is expected to be Australia’s biggest sporting event since the 2000 Olympics. [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

In contrast, Ireland are in their first World Cup and are starting to contend without major incidents.

But they were boosted by midfielder Denise O’Sullivan declaring herself fit after picking up an injury in last week’s loss to Colombia.

Captain Katie McCabe said the Irish were ready to go to Australia.

“We are Irish, we are not ashamed of our bodies. It’s ingrained in us, the hardworking group that we are,” he said.

“So yes, we are ready for Australia to be physical tomorrow, we will be ready to match.”

Ireland coach Vera Pauw admitted Australia’s performance in the World Cup could be significant.

“They have great experience, they have great players, they have great pace so we know what we are going to face,” he said.

“We see our chances here, but we play every game to win and I believe we can show our qualities again.”

Vera Pauw Ireland women's world cup
Ireland captain Katie McCabe at the team’s press conference with manager Vera Pauw [Carl Recine/Reuters]

Australian team news

Despite injuries surrounding midfielder Tameka Yallop, coach Gustavsson was tight-lipped about his team’s fitness.

Irish team news

Ireland coach Vera Pauw said O’Sullivan had made an “amazing recovery” to be fit for the opening match. “We are very open, there is nothing to hide. Denise is fit, she will play,” said Pauw.

HELP - Womens World Cup Squads-2023-1689241967

Forms and layouts

Australia: WWWW

Group 10 is one of the favorites after a string of recent strong results.

Ireland: DLLL

Ireland are ranked 22nd but will be hoping to fight the favourites.

Head to head

Ireland upset the Matildas 3-2 in 2021, the only time the two sides have met.

Players to watch

Australia: Kerr, a Golden Boot fan and sports legend, is the favorite to lead his team to the playoffs. With 55 goals in his last 72 games, fans are hoping to see a little bit of his cartwheel-backflip celebration.

“It’s about having fun and having fun and showing what football is about. Maybe it can [happen]maybe it won’t,” said the pilot.

Ireland: Arsenal’s Katie McCabe is a player who brings the team together as a young captain, and will be vital to Ireland’s chances in the tournament.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *