Chelsea and Australian forward Sam Kerr has said she respects the Irish team but also admits Australia is fully focusing on themselves ahead of their World Cup clash on Thursday.
The two sides will meet in Sydney in front of a sold-out crowd for the opening game. 80,000 fans are expected to attend the tournament's first match.
The Chelsea star, Kerr, is expected to be one of the standout players in the tournament and is also likely to add to her tally of 63 goals in 120 caps for The Matildas during this World Cup. This is coupled with the fact that Australia also boasts players like Manchester City's Mary Fowler and Arsenal's playmaker Caitlin Foord in their ranks. Australian coach Tony Gustafsson isn't short of options upfront.
Speaking to the media today, Kerr expressed that she and the side were respectful of Vera Pauw's Irish team performances against the bigger sides in the past, but she also emphasized that Australia had only one mission: to win at all costs.
“We have seen some of Ireland’s previous games, but it’s about us tomorrow,” said the Chelsea star.
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“We need to make sure we are on top of our game. Every opponent brings new challenges, but once we can play our game, we can adapt to what comes at us. We respect Ireland; they have had some good results lately, but it’s about us tomorrow.
“I’m really excited about playing in front of a packed stadium. But as a team, it’s going to go up and down, so just live in the moment. We’ve waited a long time for this game."
Kerr's influence on the Australian team isn't an alien concept for people who work inside the women's game. Her displays for Chelsea put her up there with some of the best strikers in the world. Ireland's chances of getting a result against Australia will increase greatly if they can halt Kerr in her tracks. When asked if Ireland had a plan to derail Kerr and Australia, Vera Pauw responded by saying, "Ask Sam Kerr!"
"We will play our game and have our game plan, and part of it is indeed dealing with Sam but also with many other players. Australia is not just Sam Kerr; Australia has a lot of good players, and we've watched and analyzed them, of course, and we've set our game plan."
IRELAND WNT SQUADGoalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion) Defenders: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Áine O'Gorman (Shamrock Rovers), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Claire O’Riordan (Standard Liege), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Izzy Atkinson (West Ham United) Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Sinead Farrelly (NY/NJ Gotham) Forwards: Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (Standard Liege), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers)
MATCH DETAILSFIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Group B Australia v Ireland Thursday, July 20 Stadium Australia, Sydney KO 20:00 (11:00 Irish Time) LIVE on RTÉ2