Reporting from Brisbane, Australia.
Momentum is building, excitement is in the air, and the hopes and dreams of an entire country hang in the balance as Australia looks to book a spot in the semifinals of the World Cup. All that stands in the way of Australian jubilation is Saturday’s quarterfinal date with France.
“We know tomorrow we are not only playing against one team,” France coach Herve Renard said. “We are playing against one nation.”
Les Bleues will provide a massive test for an Australian team that has seemingly flipped a switch following an underwhelming start to the World Cup. The Matildas filled the net against Canada and they earned a 2-0 win over Denmark in the Round of 16. Australia’s impressive turnaround has come without a fully fit Sam Kerr after the star striker injured her calf in training before the opening match.
The 29-year-old Kerr made her 2023 World Cup debut coming onto the pitch for the final 10 minutes of Australia’s victory over Denmark. Ahead of Australia’s match against France, talk has turned to whether or not Kerr will be available to return to the starting lineup.
“If Sam is fit to play 90 minutes she is starting,” Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson said during Australia’s press conference on Friday. “That’s not even a question and the team knows it; we’re talking about Sam Kerr here. Whether she is ready to play 90 minutes or extra time that’s to be decided tonight, but there’s no question whatever that if she is, she’s starting.”
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