Sam Kerr to lead Australia squad at Women’s World Cup
SYDNEY (AP) — Star forward Sam Kerr will lead an experienced Australia squad at the Women’s World Cup next month in France, where the Matildas are aiming to go beyond the quarterfinals for the first time.
Kerr, who made her international debut at age 15 in 2009, has scored 31 goals in her 76 full international games and is the all-time leading scorer in the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League. She scored twice in the Chicago Red Stars 3-1 win over North Carolina on the weekend, ending the defending champion Courage’s 15-game unbeaten streak, and later told reporters she’d see them after the World Cup — with the trophy.
Australia coach Ant Milicic announced a Matildas squad Tuesday that has almost 1,300 international caps combined.
Lisa de Vanna, Clare Polkinghome and Lydia Williams have been picked for a fourth World Cup campaign and six players, including Kerr, are going to the biggest event in women’s soccer for a third time.
“This is a special group of Australian footballers because, as a unit, they have accumulated a wealth of international experience despite the average age of the team being quite young,” Milicic said. “Having players who have appeared at multiple World Cups in our squad will help to guide the eight players traveling to their first.”
Kyah Simon, who has scored at the last two World Cups but has been struggling with a long-term ankle injury, and 17-year-old Kyra Cooney-Cross were included in an expanded 25-player squad for a Matildas camp in Turkey and will remain on standby in case of injuries to other players.
Milicic said Simon had only played 13 minutes in competitive games this year and, “it’s not enough.”
“There’s been a steep decline,” Milicic said. “Her last full game was in May last year. I understand the quality that she can bring, but it was my call that it was too much of a risk at this stage.”
Australia will play a warmup match against Netherlands on June 1 and then open their World Cup Group C campaign against Italy on June 9.
The Australian women have been knocked out in the quarterfinals at the last three World Cups, twice by eventual runners-up.