According to forward Caitlin Foord, Australia, who are co-hosting the Women’s World Cup, have their strongest team ever and are determined to win their first title in the tournament.
Despite being ranked 10th in the world, the Matildas have not advanced past the quarter-finals in previous World Cups. However, under the guidance of coach Tony Gustavsson, they enter the competition with confidence, having won eight of their last nine matches.
On Monday, Gustavsson announced a squad of 23 women, which includes 15 players who participated in the 2019 tournament in France. Foord, who will be playing in her fourth World Cup, was pleased with the abundance of skilled players in the team.
“I do think it is the best squad we’ve had yet,” Foord told reporters in Melbourne. “I think that the depth we have within the team is kind of something we’ve maybe been missing.”
“So to be able to have that and to have 23 players that can play any game or in any position and still be able to get the job done, that’s what’s most exciting about this one.”
Ellie Carpenter, the full-back, mentioned that their recent friendly match victory against European champions England, with a score of 2-0, has caught the attention of their opponents.
“I think (to European nations) we’re underdogs, I would say, but after that win against England, I think we have a new-found respect,” said the Olympique Lyon defender.
“Especially when I went back to my club, I think everyone was a bit shocked. I didn’t say much, I just kept my mouth shut.”
“I think people are a bit wary of us now, especially at home, and I think after that win against England we’re kind of on people’s radars.”
Australia’s first match of the tournament will be against Ireland at Sydney’s Stadium Australia on July 20. They will also face Nigeria and Canada in the group stage. The opening match against Ireland is expected to draw a crowd of over 80,000, setting a new record for a women’s soccer match in Australia. Despite this, Foord is not worried that the seven World Cup rookies in Australia’s squad will be overwhelmed by the event.
“They’re a lot more mature than probably what we were,” said the Arsenal striker.
“That’s on and off the field. I don’t feel like any of them will be too nervous or anything.”