Group C drew to a close in intriguing circumstances in the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday night. Italy, Australia and Brazil each finished on six points, with Marta becoming the all-time leading scorer (17) in the World Cup (male or female), as her late penalty saw off group winners Italy. Australia went through in second place thanks to a 4-1 win over Jamaica in which Sam Kerr netted all of the Matildas’ goals.
Kerr became the only Australian (male or female) to net a hat-trick in a World Cup, while Havana Solaun scored Jamaica’s first FIFA Women’s World Cup goal as the Reggae Girlz threatened to turn the tide at 2-1. Australia now look forward to a last-16 tie with Norway in Nice on 22nd June. Here were some thoughts from history-makers Kerr and Solaun after the game in Grenoble, as well as the Matildas’ Emily Gielnik.
On whether there is the chance to do extra individual training for her in a tournament like this:
You’ll have to ask the coaches that – I’ve been nagging them all week! Been having arguments with them about getting more shooting, but we do a little bit. Also want to rest up and focus on our team, I guess, but I try as much as I can.
On how much time she’s had to spend with family during the tournament:
I haven’t seen my family since Montpellier (when Australia beat Brazil 3-2 on 13th June). They’ve been doing a little bit of travelling, I’ve been focusing on football. Yeah I haven’t seen them since Montpellier, so hopefully tonight.
On whether it felt like Jamaica showed who they really are and what they can do, after her goal brought them back to 2-1 in the second half and handed them the momentum for a spell:
Yeah I think scoring goals is definitely something we missed out on during this tournament, but we’re young, and the tournament was a first for us. So I think moving forward it’s just about learning from this experience.
On how much the team has learned from facing such calibre of opposition in each game:
I think it’s been exciting; it’s always nice to play against the best players in the world. It’s a big challenge, and I think for some of the younger girls it was very eye-opening to see the next level.
On whether time seemed to slow down as she prepared to finish her chance, or if it happened in a flash:
No I think in the moment there’s really no thoughts, it’s just actions. Once the ball hits the back of the net that’s the first time you’re able to hear the crowd and embrace the moment, but until then I feel like there’s no thoughts.
On what should happen now to give Jamaica the best chance to properly build on this tournament:
I think the biggest thing about our team is we don’t get to train together that often. Even these three games, I felt like we got better each game, so I think moving forward it’s just about getting that time together, getting those reps together and learning how to play together.
On how else Australia felt they could have the upper hand in the game, besides frequently looking to cross to Sam Kerr in the air:
Yeah I think we had a lot of joy out wide, it’s just as the game went on and they tired, I think we should have penetrated a bit more through our wider areas and put more of those early crosses in, and really taken advantage of those full-backs. So I think there was an opportunity there. Sam, obviously she was phenomenal tonight.
On how she rates their performances in the group games, as they prepare to face Norway in the last 16:
I think just that tempo needs to improve. We still haven’t had our best football, to be honest, and I think we can get less touches on the ball and more movement off the ball. With our high-speed tempo I think we can run teams down a little bit more. That’s probably the biggest thing from our point of view and probably our coaching staff as well.
On savouring the experience at her first World Cup:
Yeah, definitely. I think once you’re out there you kind of forget that you’re at a World Cup; you’re in the moment and it’s a lot of mixed emotions. It’s obviously still feeling very real, and I think today, knowing that we’ve made second place – which is one of the better outcomes for us – is really good. So yeah, it’s all feeling real now that we’re out of this group stage, and I think it’s exciting to say the least now that we can finally take the pressure off of being out of the group stage and focus towards our main goal.
On playing in a picturesque setting like the Stade des Alpes:
To be honest, this stadium was probably the best so far, in terms of just its size, its atmosphere and the crowd’s energy. Tonight was amazing, and although we hear kind of that white noise when you’re on the field, when things kind of slow down you can feel it. It does feel nice to have all the support and atmosphere. Extremely lively, so this has really been a nice stadium for us.
On her time at Liverpool in 2012 and whether it was happy/difficult:
Yeah that was my first time away from home; I think I was 18 or 19, so a little bit homesick. Definitely learned a lot. I don’t really know how to put that trip into words; it was a long eight months! Homesick’s probably the biggest one, but I learned a lot and I played with some great players. At that time, Liverpool wasn’t as professional as it is now. so I kind of got the bitter end of the stick and it’s improved so much now. I’ve watched that league over the last couple of years now and from when I was there it’s made leaps and bounds.
On how she’s different now to then:
Wow, very different. First of all, I lost a few kgs! No first and foremost, I’m more of an attacking player, I’m a bit more lethal on the ball and definitely my delivery has improved massively, and just my game awareness, to be honest. I think I was a bit young-minded and played with not as much care, whereas now, I’m just a bit more disciplined and a bit better in my defensive role, I could say.