afe to say that the Matildas are flying in this Cup of Nations tournament.
After recording a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the 14th-ranked South Korea at Lang Park, confidence is justifiably sky high.
At times the Matildas played some sumptuous football, lead by talismanic captain Sam Kerr, who netted two goals in the first half against a Korean defence that simply had no answer to her pace and ability to exploit any weakness at the back.
Kerr was named captain by new coach Ante Milicic ahead of this, his first tournament in charge, and the Perth Glory star has not disappointed since donning the armband.
Australian teams across the board seemingly need players on which to hang their hopes for global success and, according to Milicic, in Kerr the Matildas have a clear favourite to wield that tag.
“She reminds me of Tim Cahill,” Milicic said, elevating Kerr to the pedestal upon which Cahill surveyed the footballing landscape for the Socceroos for so long.
“She’s got such strong belief, [she’s] mentally strong, she’s fearless. I was very pleased with her tonight,” Milicic said.
Kerr was a threat throughout the contest, tearing towards the Korean defenders at every opportunity when played in by Emily van Egmond and Tameka Butt’s long ranking balls forward.
The 25-year-old striker earned and scored the penalty that settled any potential nerves in just the sixth minute, and followed up by pouncing on a wayward back pass in the shadows of half time and hammering past Jung Mi Kim in the Korean goal.
“She’s a leader by her actions and she’s growing into her role,” Milicic said of his on-field leader.
“She actually, probably on the world stage, doesn’t get the recognition she deserves, but tonight she was very active, scored her goals well and she leads the line well.”
Options aplenty up front
Kerr led the line brilliantly, but it was one of this season’s forgotten players from the W-League who also caught the eye.
Lisa de Vanna started just six games for Sydney this season, and failed to find the back of the net from eight attempts on target for the Sky Blues, but the 35-year-old veteran was exceptional in gold on Sunday.
De Vanna gathered the ball with alacrity around the pitch in the first half, and popped up with the Matildas’ second goal on the night, a tap in after Butt’s shot was saved, to more than justify her selection.
“I was pleased for her, because she worked hard,” Milicic said of de Vanna.
“She didn’t get a lot of minutes this year, so for her to get an opportunity from the start is a different mindset for her.
“[The goal] will give her a lot of confidence moving forward, and at the same time, the amount of work she got through was something that she really needed.”
Another of the Matilda’s striking arsenal to fire was Emily Gielnik — whose thunderbolt of a strike energised the crowd in the closing stages while also serving to punctuate the impressive overall performance.
“We’ve got a lot of quality in the front third.” Milicic admitted.
“There’s a lot there. Competition is healthy.”
Defensive frailties remain
Despite the apparent ease of this victory, there are still question marks over the defence.
South Korea sporadically achieved success with raids on the Matildas’ penalty area in the first half, but aside from Soyun-ji’s phenomenal free kick, the visitors were unable to create enough to test Mackenzie Arnold.
However, at the latter stages of the World Cup, the Matildas might not be so lucky.