It was the moment the Matildas proved to the world they are genuine contenders to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
This exhilerating photo (picture No.1 above) – taken just minutes after the team’s sensational 1-1 draw with Sweden to clinch a Round of 16 berth – shows the raw emotion and growing belief and confidence within Alen Stajcic’s squad.
Leading the cheering were the Roar’s Larissa Crummer, Laura Alleway, Katrina Gorry and Elise Kellond-Knight – four of the club’s Magnificent 7 in the Matildas squad. Also in the green and gold in Canada are Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt and Hayley Raso.
After finishing second in their so-called “Group of Death” against the US, Sweden and Nigeria – the Matildas now have a Round of 16 clash against top-rated Brazil in Moncton on Monday morning (3am AEST – Live on SBS One, SBS HD and online).
Butt, who celebrated her 24th birthday on match day against the Swedes, revealed yesterday that the Matildas are revelling in their underdogs status at the tournament.
After arriving in the small New Brunswick town on Canada’s east coast, Butt said the Matildas squad was determined to prove to the world that they totally believe in their attacking approach to football.
“We want to prove we have a good style,” said Butt.
“It has won us games and is competitive. We seem to be the underdog team coming into everything and that seems to help us but we’re full of confidence in thinking we can go all the way in this.”
Butt said the Matildas would treat the skilful Brazilians, who are ranked seventh int he world, with the same respect they had shown every team so far in the competition.
“To win the World Cup you’ve got to beat the best teams in the world and Brazil is one of them,” she said.
“We’ve played them before and we know their strengths and weaknesses but we’re looking forward to implementing our game plan and hopefully come away with a win.”
Kellond-Knight, who was player of the match in the 1-1 draw with Sweden, believes the side’s youthful energy was surprising their opponents.
“We’ve got a very young side but I think it works in our favour – there’s sort of that element of fearlessness,” she told AAP.
Kellond-Knight also dismissed suggestions the Matildas had peaked too early in the competition in stretching the US in their first half of their opening game and taking the match to the Swedes
“We are so far off our potential,” Kellond-Knight warned.
Coach Stajcic said the Matildas were ready for Brazil and everyone in the squad was fit, including co-captain Polkinghorne, who injured her hamstring pre-tournament.
“We’ve already played two former World Cup finalists so you may as well throw another one into the equation,” he told AAP.