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Matildas will need plenty to go right to go deep at World Cup

3 1 0
07.06.2019

If Australia is to match its No.6 in the world ranking and reach at least the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup – or go even further as some pundits predict – it will need plenty to go right.

Ante Milicic's team will need its sharpshooting captain and inspirational leader Sam Kerr, one of the top players in the world, to be on form right from the start.

Sam Kerr.Credit:AAP

It will need its midfield to take control of games, ensuring Kerr and her forward partners get the opportunities they need to convert any dominance in possession Australia can earn into goals.

It will need luck with injuries and in the games themselves: a bad bounce, a poor referee's call, a misjudgment at a crucial moment can be the difference between triumph and disaster.

But more than anything it is going to need to be defensively well organised.

It's a cliche, but only because it is a truism: attackers win matches, but defences win titles. And Australia has been far from sound at the back in recent games.

It shipped goals far too easily in a helter-skelter game against the USA when the Americans scored five to Australia's three in Denver, Colorado, back in early April – Milicic's first game on foreign soil.

The Australians then went down 3-0 last weekend in their final warm-up match for the French tournament, losing to the Dutch, a team plenty see as perhaps more than a lively outsider for the title which will be decided over the next four weeks.

Scoring three and conceding eight is not exactly an ideal way to prepare for the biggest, most keenly contested tournament in the world.

Yes, they were against strong teams – teams rated more of a winning chance in France than Italy, Brazil and Jamaica, who the Matildas will encounter in their group games.

But tightening up at the back, maintaining concentration and allowing as few chances as possible is a........

© The Age