Matildas striker Caitlin Foord has revealed the team “plan” on Sam Kerr returning in time for the Aussies’ do-or-die Group B clash against Canada on Monday.
A shock 3-2 defeat to Nigeria on Thursday night has the Matildas on the brink of exiting the Women’s World Cup in the group stages, an unthinkable scenario especially in a home tournament.
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Yet it’s now placed immense pressure on Tony Gustavsson’s side to beat Canada, the Olympic gold medallists at the Tokyo Games, if they are to make it to the Round of 16.
To date, the Matildas have been forced to cope without superstar striker Kerr who has been absent from the first two games with a calf injury.
Kerr’s diagnosis was revealed just before the World Cup opener against Ireland as she would miss the first and second group game before being re-assessed ahead of the Canada clash.
Given the heightened importance of the Canada fixture, the nation is crossing their fingers and toes Kerr will be fit to at the very least play some role in the Matildas’ final group game.
According to Foord, it appears that is set to be the case.
When asked by NCA Newswireif Kerr would appear against Canada, Foord replied: “That’s the plan.”
Foord had developed a strong partnership with Kerr up front in a two-pronged attack, but the former has struggled for form without her regular strike partner in the Women’s World Cup.
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‘ONLY IN YOUR EYES’: EMBATTLED TILLIES BOSS FINDS UNLIKELY ALLY
Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum has leapt to the defence of embattled Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson after the latter threw a defender up top in the dying stages of their Group B encounter on Thursday night.
Down 3-1 and desperately chasing the game, Gustavsson took winger Cortnee Vine off and replaced her with veteran centre back Clare Polkinghorne in the 82nd minute.
With Polkinghorne on the field, Gustavsson then decided to send Alanna Kennedy, who had operated at centre-back up until that point, as a striker.
It was a tactical move that had many fans scratching their heads, although Kennedy went on to score a late goal that unfortunately proved to be nothing more than a consolation in a 3-2 defeat.
However, Waldrum backed Gustavsson for the eyebrow-raising switch.
“Depending on the qualities of that defender and you’re chasing a game and you need something, I think as a coach, you have to make whatever decision you can to try and get back in the match,” Waldrum said in his post-match press conference.
“You guys asked me a day or so ago about the criticism of me playing players out of position. And I said, ‘It’s only out of position in your eyes.’
“The coach sees them every day in training and the coach knows what’s going on in camp.
“I would say if you need to chase the game and that player you think can make a difference, then for whatever reason, then I think you do it.”
ARGENTINA PULL OFF THRILLING COMEBACK TO DENY SOUTH AFRICA ALL-TIME FIRST
Romina Nunez scored the equaliser as Argentina roared back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with South Africa at the Women’s World Cup on Friday, denying them a landmark first-ever win at the tournament.
South Africa appeared to be cruising to a first ever win in five matches at the World Cup after goals by Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana either side of halftime in Dunedin.
However, Argentina pulled one back via a stunning Sophia Braun strike in the 74th minute and then drew level five minutes later when Nunez headed home.
Appearing at their fourth World Cup, Argentina have still never won in 11 attempts but this draw gives them hope going into their final match in Group G.
After losing their opening matches in New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa both now have one point.
Favourites Sweden and Italy both have three points before playing each other in Wellington on Saturday, before a decisive final round of games on August 2.
South Africa threw away a lead and then conceded the decisive goal in the last minute as they lost 2-1 to Sweden in their opening match at the tournament.
And Banyana Banyana let slip a golden opportunity to break their World Cup duck here having initially overcome the loss of captain Refiloe Jane to injury in the first half.
She was taken off on a stretcher, with Kgatlana taking the armband. Kgatlana, who recovered from a ruptured achilles tendon to be fit for the World Cup, set up the opener when she ran away from the Argentina defence and squared for Motlhalo to score after half an hour.
The Argentina players stopped tracking back, convinced Kgatlana was offside in the build-up, and the flag did initially come up.
However, the goal was given on review and South Africa were in front. Paulina Gramaglia hit the bar with a cross-cum-shot for Argentina before Kgatlana put the ball in the net again in first-half stoppage time, but this time the goal was ruled out for offside.
Chances came at either end in the second half but South Africa appeared to be out of sight when Jermaine Seoposenwe’s low centre was turned in by Racing Louisville forward Kgatlana just after the hour mark.
Argentina looked down and out but they were given hope when Braun beat goalkeeper Kaylin Swart with a fantastic strike, controlling a clearance and letting fly from 25 metres out.
Five minutes later they drew level as Yamila Rodriguez crossed for fellow substitute Nunez to head in and make it 2-2.
Women’s World Cup Schedule — July 28 (ALL TIMES IN AEST)
Group G: Argentina 2-2 South Africa
Group D: England v Denmark — 6:30pm
Group D: China v Haiti — 9pm
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