The Matildas have it all to do in their do-or-die Women’s World Cup match against Brazil on Friday morning, but their belief and attacking game is here to stay.
Coach Ante Milicic remains confident his side will bounce back from its shock 2-1 loss to Italy last Sunday and rise to the challenge first against the renowned flair of the ‘Canarinhas’ at Montpellier, before advancing to the knockout stage by also beating Jamaica at Grenoble on Wednesday morning (5am).
Milicic said there was no need to tweak the team’s trademark gung-ho approach to get maximum points against the seven-time Copa America Femenina champions – particularly as Australia has a four-match winning streak against the world No.10.
This included a 6-1 humbling of Brazil at the 2017 Tournament of Nations in Los Angeles and a 3-1 win at the 2018 tournament in Kansas City.
Overall, the two nations have played 18 times since 1988, with the world No.6 Matildas leading 9-8.
The most significant result in recent times was the 2015 World Cup round-of-16 match, when Kyah Simon’s 80th-minute goal settled the score in the Matildas’ favour.
Which is just one reason why Millicic and his team remain upbeat – particularly after reviewing the Italy match.
“We dominated possession. We dominated shots on goal and we dominated territory,” Millicic said.
“In the end we created enough chances to win the game, but unfortunately we’ve made an error in build up. That happens.
“I really feel like we deserved something from the game, but that’s the World Cup. We got nothing.”
In contrast, Brazil snapped a nine-game losing streak in its 3-0 win against Jamaica, thanks to a Cristiane hat-trick.
Six-time world player of the year Marta is under an injury cloud, but the unmistakeable footballing pedigree of Brazil means it will always be a force to be reckoned with.
Experienced midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight is another who has struggled with injury, but she’s fighting fit for Friday.
— Matildas (@TheMatildas) June 12, 2019
Kellond-Knight, 28, summed up the sentiment among the squad on Wednesday.
“The immediate reaction [to the Italy loss] was obviously a little bit frustrated, a little bit disappointed,” she told Matildas.com.au.
“In saying that, it was a pretty quick turnaround. We dealt with that emotionally and then we banded together as a group.
“We 100 per cent believe in what we’re trying to achieve.
“It’s really important we focus on what we’re doing here as a team and listen to what our coaching staff want from us.”
Similarly, central defender Alanna Kennedy asked fans to “keep believing in us”.
“We believe in ourselves and we know that we’ll come back from the first game,” Kennedy said.
“Obviously it wasn’t the result that we wanted, but our focus is solely on the next couple of games.
“Nothing changes, we want to continue to win our games.
“We want [Matildas fans] behind us, and we hope to do them proud.”
Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy responds to the heavy criticism of the high defensive line against Italy.
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) June 12, 2019
Not surprisingly, Milicic said he expected the Matildas to stick to their guns.
“Not now after one game are we thinking we need to tweak things,” Milicic said.
“It’s up to these girls in the next two games to really show what they are made of and I am confident.
“I really believe in them as characters and I am sure they are going to put on a good performance in the next two games.”