Preview: The Matildas Travel to face Republic of Ireland

Ben Gilby hears from Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and key players Jenna McCormick and Chloe Logarzo within Australia’s training camp in Dublin ahead of next week’s friendly with the Republic of Ireland.

Matildas Head Coach Tony Gustavsson’s 25‑player squad gathered in Dublin earlier this week ahead of their friendly with the Republic of Ireland on 22 September 2021 at Tallaght Stadium.

The September training camp and international friendly marks the beginning of a new international cycle that will include the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Gustavsson and his coaching team have already commenced the work of setting the foundations for the next three years.

“While there were many aspects of our Tokyo campaign that we were proud of, I share the strong sentiment of the playing group that there is still unfinished business,” said Gustavsson.

“It is what makes our whole team extremely motivated and energised for the next phase of this journey towards the World Cup.  We have analysed our performances and have some great insights for us to work with.”

“However, as we keep working to improve all areas of our game, we will ensure that our aggressive pressing game and our attacking mindset will always remain at the heart of who we are.”

For the training camp and international friendly match against the Republic of Ireland, 16 players from the Tokyo campaign return.  A cohort of defenders have been added with Emma Checker and Jenna McCormick recalled, while W-League Championship winning captain Angie Beard, W-League Young Player of the Year nominee Jamilla Rankin and her former Brisbane Roar teammate, Winonah Heatley, have been invited to test themselves in the national team environment.

Also coming in were Fortuna Hjørring duo Indiah-Paige Riley who returns to the national side after earning her first cap in April against Germany, and Clare Wheeler who becomes the latest player to earn a first call up to the senior side.

Gustavsson told the assembled media that his selection was focused around his review of the team’s performance in the Olympic Games where the Matildas finished fourth. He explained the need for a 25 player squad for a single friendly due to wanting the opportunity to look at players who, although may not be ready for international football, are part of the long term plan for 2023 and beyond.

He went on to say: “The next phase presents a fresh start for all players – whether they are plying their trade in Australia, Europe, Asia, the United States or elsewhere.  We have a long runway to 2023 and we want to utilise every camp, every match, every moment possible to become one day better.”

“We have previously stated the importance of presenting players with opportunities to experience the national team environment and, with our scouting network, we will look to continue to do so in a measured manner.”

Three key players were missing. Ellie Carpenter and Kyah Simon were withdrawn after consultation with their clubs and Caitlin Foord, suffering a niggling injury stays at Arsenal. While Hayley Raso, one of Gareth Taylor’s ever grown list of injured players, is also withdrawn.

On Wednesday, Jenna McCormick spoke to the media about her return to the national team after an 18-month absence.

Whilst not a familiar name in the UK, McCormick is a phenomenal multi-sport athlete. Winning two Australian Rules Football Grand Finals with Adelaide Crows in three years in front of huge crowds as well as playing W-League football at the same time is amazing in itself. Then, moving solely to a football career and playing for your country with a home World Cup also on the horizon is something else.

McCormick then moved to Spain to play for Real Betis where she experienced an exceptionally challenging time. She eventually came back to Australia to play for Melbourne City last season before moving to play club football in Denmark and her recall to the national squad makes brings the defender full circle after a tough year and a half.

Photos: The Matildas and @Jen_McCormick

“A lot can happen in 18 months,” said McCormick. “I feel like I have ridden the rollercoaster of football; the highs, the lows, and everything in between.”

“It has been challenging.  It has been good, it has been bad, it has been the entire spectrum of football emotions.  Fast forward to now, it’s a different story. I am really happy where I am in Denmark playing for Aarhus and just back to loving my football.”

At the other end of the spectrum, midfielder Chloe Logarzo returns to the camp following a short break at the conclusion of the team’s intense Tokyo campaign.  Recently earning her 50th cap for Australia, Logarzo is currently playing her club football in the United States with Kansas City.

“My time in Kansas City has been really good.  It’s really nice to be back in the US. It’s quite comfortable for me (there),” she said.

“It’s definitely where I want to be for my personal self. I think it’s definitely what makes me grow as a player, on and off the field.”

If selected, The Matildas all-time record scorer Sam Kerr will earn her hundredth cap. She is, additionally, only a hat-trick away from overtaking Tim Cahill as Australia’s greatest ever international goal scorer.

Australia Squad to face the Republic of Ireland:

Name Position Club Caps (goals)
Mackenzie Arnold Goalkeeper West Ham United 26 (0)
Angie Beard Defender Fortuna Hjørring 0 (0)
Steph Catley Defender Arsenal WFC 91 (3)
Emma Checker Defender Melbourne City 7 (0)
Kyra Cooney-Cross Midfielder Melbourne Victory 9 (0)
Mary Fowler Forward Montpellier 15 (2)
Emily Gielnik Forward Aston Villa 48 (11)
Charlotte Grant Defender FC Rosengård 0 (0)
Amy Harrison Midfielder PSV Eindhoven 13 (0)
Winonah Heatley Defender Växjö 0 (0)
Alanna Kennedy Defender Manchester City 98 (8)
Sam Kerr Forward Chelsea 99 (48)
Chloe Logarzo Midfielder Kansas City 53 (8)
Jenna McCormick Defender AGF Fodbold 4 (0)
Teagan Micah Goalkeeper FC Rosengård 7 (0)
Courtney Nevin Defender Unattached 3 (0)
Clare Polkinghorne Defender Vittsjö GIK 135 (11)
Jamilla Rankin Defender Brisbane Roar 0 (0)
Hayley Raso Forward Manchester City 56 (6)
Indiah-Paige Riley Forward Fortuna Hjørring 1 (0)
Remy Siemsen Forward Sydney FC 0 (0)
Emily van Egmond Midfielder Unattached 108 (23)
Clare Wheeler Midfielder Fortuna Hjørring 0 (0)
Lydia Williams Goalkeeper Arsenal 91 (0)
Tameka Yallop Midfielder West Ham United 96 (11)

Ben Gilby writes for Beyond90, Australia’s leading women’s football platform – www.beyond90.com.au