A huge smile plastered on her face, Katrina Gorry, screaming, ran half the pitch, to converge with her teammates around Kyah Simon who had just put the Matilda’s 1 – 0 up against Brazil.
With a spray of Canadian drizzle in the air, Australia was heading to the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup.
“I remember when we all went over to the corner flag to celebrate with Kyah, in those few seconds everyone looked each other in the eye and you could just see how much belief we had in each other,” Gorry told THE TURF.
“I think Emily [Van Egmond] said ‘this is it, we’ve got to hold them out, this is it’ and it still gives me goose bumps and almost brings a tear to my eye because you just don’t realise how much belief you have until a moment like that comes.”
The past month, our Matilda’s have run ravage in Canada, turning heads across the globe for their relentless attacking intensity and depth.
Even before Australia’s upset of Brazil in the Round of 16, strong group-stage efforts against USA, Sweden and Nigeria propelled them out of the ‘Group of Death’ as a real title contender, confidence that’s now grown into a real understanding of the opportunity ripe for the taking by our girls.
“We always had that never say die attitude but now it’s something different, we actually believe we can mix it with the best teams in the world and that we deserve to be up there, especially with how much talent and depth we have in our squad at the moment.”
“From the start we have built on our performances and shown each other what we’re capable of and I think that drives the belief in this team.“
It’s an been an astounding turn-around for the Matilda’s, who only just over 8-months ago were without a coach. A stand-off between the players and then manager Hesterine de Reus lead to the abrupt dismissal of the Dutch coach, leaving Sydney FC W-League veteran, Alan Stajcic to take her place.
“Staj has only had us for the last six months and what he has done with the team has been incredible.”
“He has brought this philosophy into the team and we like to play a possession based brand of football and to press high as much as we can to try and win the ball back as soon as we can, and if we can’t to get in our positions and stay tight on our players.”
Stajcic’s new brand of football has rejuvenated the Matilda’s to tie together a full ninety minutes. A new fluency between defence and offence has allowed Gorry to flourish in her natural position of central midfield, dominating the ball across the middle.
But it’s not an easy road forward for the Matilda’s, reigning world champions Japan stand in the way of a semi-final berth.
“We’ve played Japan a lot of times and had a lot of experience with the Asian teams and Japan have proved to be by far the best, just their technical ability and the way they just know where each other are on the pitch,” said Gorry.
Playing the Japanese late last year in the Asian Cup, the Matilda’s narrowly lost 1 – 0 in a tight final. Though this time around it’s an open playing field according to Gorry.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough game but I think we’ve grown so much since that Asian Cup Final last year”
“We’re a stronger team and I think we’re really going to take the game to them and show them how far we’ve come in the last six months.”
Written by Jacob Arnott. @jacobarnott.
The Matilda’s play Japan on Sunday morning, 6AM Australian Eastern Time. Broadcast live on SBS.