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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

Matildas "golden generation" on track to medal in Paris

Former Matilda Amy Chapman says should they qualify, the Matildas have a “good shot” at medaling at the Paris Olympics.

The Matildas defeated Uzbekistan 10-0 in Melbourne on Wednesday night to qualify for their third straight games.

Chapman, speaking on Sports Breakfast, said there’s a lot on the line for the Matildas.

“It's always a good day when the Tillies are in town and another sold-out stadium, which is fantastic. There's so much on the line,” 

“I think a lot of people, particularly those newer fans of the Matildas, probably don't realise that for 12 years the Matildas didn't qualify for the Olympics - it's very difficult. We're up against, usually, Japan or North Korea, it's very difficult to qualify through Asia.

“We've had a good run next time and we're set up to essentially get a win or a draw or even a small loss tonight. We'll still get the Tillies a ticket to Paris.”

The Matildas’ Olympic campaign will be without star striker and captain Sam Kerr, who was ruled out after an ACL injury attained during a Chelsea training camp in Morocco. 

In her place, Steph Catley has taken the captain’s armband while Michelle Heyman has come into the side as a like-for-like striker replacement. 

Chapman says this shouldn’t affect our chances to medal in Paris, and there is the depth to cover her absence. 

“The World Cup was a great precursor and a great warm-up to experience life without Sam Kerr. What she does for the opposition defence as well and just how she draws a lot of attention, which then makes other players shine around her. That is very difficult to replace,” she said. 

“She's such a character, and she's such a leader as well, so they’re always going to feel that absence. But I think we now have so many talented players playing in the best clubs in the world, playing regularly against and training with the best players in the world. 

“But we're having a really good shot of getting a medal in Paris because there are only 12 teams that go there. A couple of big names like Great Britain, and Sweden are all not going to be there, so a big opportunity for the Tillies.”

During Saturday’s match, the game was caught in a deadlock until Heyman scored in the 72nd minute. From there, the floodgates opened with Mary Flower and Caitlin Foord adding a goal of their own. 

Chapman says the Matildas are “spoiled for choice” throughout the squad. 

“The thing about Mary [Fowler] is she's exceptionally talented and she's so, so young. She's competing with the best in the world and she's well used to a lot of the others around her,” she said.

“The key player for me is still Caitlin Foord. What she's doing for Arsenal and what she's doing for the Matildas, she is so talented, such a creative player, but we're also spoiled for choice. 

We've still got Katrina Gorry out there, Kyra Cooney-Cross and a lot of young talent mixed with more experienced heads, and the one I love is Clare Hunt at central defence there. She's had a seamless transition to the next level.”

“So we're sprinkled with talent everywhere. It is a bit of a golden generation. So I hope they can get a medal to show for it.”

IMAGE: The Canberra Times


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