Almanac Olympics – Soccer: Australia has another chance of a medal, but Sweden is bound for the final


It was perhaps a game too far for the Matildas. Against a fit and fresh Swedish team they just came up short. A picky but consistent referee denied Australia a goal in the first half, and a last-minute red card in the final minute to the otherwise impeccable Ellie Carpenter was harsh in the circumstances. The only goal of the game came in  in the first minute of the second half. A Swedish attack resulted in a testing ball into the goal area by Stina Blankenstinus that wrong-footed keeper Tegan Micah so she was unable to keep out a follow up by Fridolino Rolfo.


Tonight’s was a much more cautious game than the six-goal group game between the two. Both teams had periods of dominance and Sweden were more composed in midfield and at the back, but there was always the prospect the Sam Kerr would repeat the heroics of previous games. As she thought she had done only to be called back for an infringement by a team-mate. There were several more near things particularly in the second half. Caitlin Foord and Kyah Simon were both involved and Steph Catley delivered some testing crosses and corner-kicks. Hayley Raso ran herself into the ground on the right wing. Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross came on for Tameka Yallop and Simon and both helped lift the team but were unable to create the decisive response this time. I was delighted that Laura Brock, nee Alleway, got a run at the very end and can thus claim to have been an Olympian. I’ve always had a soft spot for this tireless worker, whose powerful header against New Zealand lights up the opening spread of our chapter on the women’s game in A History of Football in Australia. She might get a chance to do some damage in the final game.


The other semi-final saw Canada inflict another single-goal defeat from the penalty spot on a USA team that really needs to complete the renewal that is underway. Australia has a good chance of picking up a deserved bronze medal on Thursday. That would be a significant achievement by the Matildas, though the commentators seem to ignore that some of this generation started by winning the Asian Cup of Nations in 2010 five years before their male counterparts.



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  1. To my eye the Matildas played better against Sweden than against GB. Against GB the luck ran our way and the half chances went in. After a shaky start we dominated the last 15 minutes of the first half; and there was a lot of luck to the Swedish goal. I was proud of the all round performance of the team. If anything Sam Kerr was our worst – though she did some clever things. Failed to put away a chance she would normally get and looked stuffed by half way through the second half (you can’t sub Bambi).
    Football was the winner and I’m now a convert to the women’s game. Very keen to go to games in the 2023 World Cup. We are owed some luck then.

  2. Merv Collins says

    Thanks for your reports on the Women’s football, Roy. Firstly a belated comment on the draw v US in the Group match. I can’t understand the criticism the team and coach got for playing conservatively to ensure qualification. Of course they did! What if we had played attacking football and coughed up a goal on the break? How stupid would we have looked then? Sometimes you bat a long time to ensure a draw, Roy.
    The match v GB which we qualified for as a result was one of the most exciting matches – male or female – I’ve seen in a long time. Sam’s composure to score the equaliser was remarkable and the resolution the team showed to hold on in face of the repeated GB raids was inspiring.
    We were stiff in the semifinal against Sweden. We deserved at least extra time but if you can’t get the ball in the net, you don’t win! But great stuff from our women who are a credit to the sport and the country. I look forward to the World Cup!
    PS I too have a soft spot for Laura Brock, She spent more time with my grandson at a fan day than she needed to. You don’t forget these things. Onya, Laura! Hope she gets a medal in what could be her last run with the mighty Matildas!

  3. Thanks Peter and Merv. There is no doubt that Sweden were a much superior team in the two recent matches and they had the benefit of having played the Matildas recently, not just watched videos of their games. Sweden always matches the Matildas physically and strategically. Even so, had Sam scored the penalty in the first encounter or someone had followed up like Jackson Irvine does when Martin Boyle takes penalties, that would have made things interesting in the group game. I think poor Sam was absolutely stuffed before she even got on to the field in the semi-final. It showed on a couple of occasions when her legs would just not do what she wanted them to. She was close to that distance runner who collapsed got up and nearly had to do a Doranda Petri.
    I like the cricket analogy, Merv, though I don’t think it quite applies to football which descends into farce when a team won’t move out of its own defensive area. That is different from ‘parking the bus’ where you just try to ensure that you have eleven behind the ball when the other team attacks. I get exercised when a team in full possession of the ball just refuses to use it. Melbourne City were like that for a while a couple of seasons ago. Even the club sold me a membership which meant I did not have to go to watch them. Glad you like big Laura. She broke her toe in Frances just prior to the World Cup, but stayed on at her own expense to support the team. You cannot buy that kind of loyalty and commitment.
    However this exercise ends, with or without a medal, these players have done us proud. I am slowly warming to the excitable coach too. He is no fool and he enjoys the game. Too many folk don’t seem to do so.

  4. France not Frances. Predictive or simple error because it is my wife’s name?

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