Every day at present there are huge shifts at this Women’s World Cup. Final Group matches mean heartache for some, and renewed hope for others. Co-hosts New Zealand have already fallen. Australia probably face the same fate on Monday, July 31st, if they fail to beat Canada in Melbourne.
There’s a scenario where the Aussies taking a point would mean if Ireland beat Nigeria by a two-goal margin then they could still progress, but I don’t think many are buying into that. It’s do or die time down under.
It’s not hard to imagine how much this will mean to both sides, but especially the Aussies. A very proud and combative sporting nation, co-hosting this World Cup, and desperate to remain in the competition.
And yet – their form leading up to the tournament, and indeed so far in it, has been patchy. The Matildas have found wins pretty tricky to engineer, and that’s not been helped of late by the absence of forward Sam Kerr. The outstanding Chelsea star has encouragingly now declared herself fit for selection though, and it’s to be hoped she’s not too ring-rusty.
Her mere presence in the matchday squad will be a blessing – but it’s on the pitch that the nation’s fate will be decided.
Australia to beat Canada @ 11/10
If it kind of has to happen, if you get my drift, that’s no guarantee whatsoever of ‘it’ coming to pass. But when the motivation is sky-high, when the stakes could hardly be higher, one of two things usually occurs. Stage fright off the scale, and an ignominious fail; or shoulders back, steely resolve, ‘let’s get the job done.’
In a home stadium in front of an adoring capacity crowd, I’m banking on this proud group to do what it takes and win this football match.
Canada are quite possibly, perversely, the more enticing option. They drew with Nigeria, conquerors of Australia. They don’t score prolifically, but then again are tough to beat.
BUT – this is going to be a tough old test in the lion’s den. Can they survive? Of course – but I’m saying that they won’t. That combative spirit so prevalent in this passionately sporting hotbed can for me secure the win that will keep home hopes alive for just that little while longer.