Five Things to Know About Australia - 2018 Tournament of Nations

Presented by Thorne
U.S. WNT - Lindsey Horan
U.S. WNT - Lindsey Horan

Coming off a convincing 4-2 win against Japan on July 26 to open the 2018 Tournament of Nations, the USA now takes on Australia – last years’ ToN winner – on Sunday, July 29 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field (7 p.m. ET on FS1).

Australia Women’s National Team Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Lydia Williams (Seattle Reign, USA), 12-Teagan Micah (UCLA, USA), 18-Mackenzie Arnold (Arna-Bjørnar Fotball, Norway)
DEFENDERS (5): 4-Claire Polkinghorne (Houston Dash, USA), 7-Laura Alleway (Geelong Galaxy United), 14-Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride, USA), 21-Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns, USA), 22-Larissa Crummer (Unattached)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 3-Amy Sayer (North Shore Mariners FC), 2-Aivi Luik (Levante UD (Spain), 6-Chloe Logarzo (Blacktown Spartans), 8-Elise Kellond-Knight (Hammarby IF, Sweden), 10-Emily Van Egmond (Orlando Pride, USA), 13-Tameka Butt (Klepp IL, Norway), 19-Katrina Gorry (Utah Royals FC, USA), 23-Alex Chidiac (Atletico Madrid, Spain) 
FORWARDS (7): 5-Mary Fowler (Bankstown Lion FC), 9-Caitlin Foord (Portland Thorns FC, USA), 11-Lisa De Vanna (South Melbourne FC), 15-Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar), 16-Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns, USA), 17-Kyah Simon (Houston Dash, USA), 20-Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars, USA)

NWSL Strong
Australia brought 10 NWSL players into the tournament, and had named an 11th, but Steph Catley returned to Australia due to a death in the family. The 10 players are: Goalkeeper Lydia Williams (Seattle Reign), defenders Claire Polkinghorne (Houston Dash), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride) and Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns), midfielders Emily Van Egmond (Orlando Pride) and Katrina Gorry (Utah Royals FC), and forwards Caitlin Foord (Portland Thorns FC), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns), Kyah Simon (Houston Dash) and Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars).

Carpenter is the youngest player to play in the NWSL. She made her debut on May 9, 2018 on the road against Houston at 18 years, 12 days. She is also the youngest player to score in the NWSL, tallying on May 19, 2018 on the road against Washington Spirit at age 18 years, 22 days.

A Star is Born
Sam Kerr, Australia’s star forward, is one of the world’s top strikers. She was named the 2017 NWSL MVP and the league’s leading scorer. Kerr is also the all-time leading scorer in the NWSL. Just recently, Kerr was announced as a finalist for the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She scored a brilliant goal against Brazil in Australia’s opening game of the Tournament of Nations and now has 25 in 68 caps.After an off-season trade from Sky Blue FC to the Chicago Red Stars, Kerr has picked up where she left off and is tied for the NWSL lead in scoring with nine goals.

The Matildas in 2018
Following a highly-successful 12 months, Australia preserved through an up-and-down qualification campaign in April of 2018 at the AFC Women’s Asia Cup. The Matildas opened with a scoreless draw against Korea Republic in a match they dominated, before an 8-0 win over Vietnam. Kerr scored a late equalizer in the final group match against Japan, a 1-1 tie, to lock up qualification. The Aussies experienced a bit of a shock in the semifinal as they needed penalties to defeat Thailand after a 2-2 draw in regulation. In the final of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Australia was likely the better team, but Japan’s Kumi Yokoyama scored against the run of play at the end of the match for the 1-0 win, leaving the 2010 Asia champions as runners-up for the third time in five tournaments.

Outside of the World Cup qualifying tournament, Australia also played in the Algarve Cup this year, defeating Norway 4-3, on goals from Polkinghorne, Chloe Logarzo, Kerr and Larissa Crummer, but then drew host Portugal 0-0 and defeated China, 2-0 in group play. That was good enough for a spot in the Third-Place game where the Aussies fell to Portugal, 2-1. Caitlin Cooper scored the lone goal for the Matildas in what was Portugal’s best finish in their own tournament. Australia also played Thailand in a friendly in March, beating them 5-0.

Leading the Pack: Alen Stajcic
Australia’s head coach is Alen Satjcic, who was a highly successful youth coach in Australia. He coached the Australia U-20 WNT before being named head coach of the senior side in 2014. In March 2016, he helped qualify the Matildas for the Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years eliminating World Cup finalists Japan along the way.

In the last five years, the Matildas have big made strides on the world stage. In 2015, Australia made it to the quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup, and most recently made it to the quarterfinal of the 2016 Olympic tournament, but fell to Brazil in a penalty kick shootout that went eight players deep. Australia then went on to win the 2017 Tournament of Nations, and followed that up by booking its ticket to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup by finishing second at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asia Cup.

Said Stajcic: “While we will naturally be aiming to defend our Tournament of Nations title, we will also be focused on continuing to develop as a unit while we are in the USA as we look ahead to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Brazil, Japan, and the USA will provide tough opposition for us over the coming weeks, but over the past year we have shown on multiple occasions that we can not only match, but beat, the very best.”

Australia 2023???
Australia announced in June of 2017 that it would bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with the Federal Government announcing it will financially back Football Federation Australia (FFA) to put together a bid proposal. The Australian Government will provide initial funding worth $1 million, with a further $4 million to be made available should it be satisfied the bid has a chance of being successful. Final bids are expected to be made by late 2018, with FIFA set to announce the winning host the following year.

The Government noted the potential economic benefits of hosting the Women's World Cup, with the 2015 edition in Canada attracting more than a million spectators and a global TV audience of more than 760 million viewers. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra would be expected to host the 24-team tournament, which will feature 52 matches, with each city having staged fixtures in the men's AFC Asian Cup in 2015. Australia hosted the highly successful Olympic soccer tournaments for men and women in 2000.