Meet The Matildas

With the A-League done and dusted our attention now moves to the FIFA Women’s World Cup where our Matildas will take on the might of some of the world’s best teams.

In a group that includes the USA and Sweden our girls will get a good taste of where women’s football in Australia stands. The girls have had mixed results in their recent outings with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands followed by a 3-0 loss to England.

But in their last two games the results have been a sign of hope for the side with the girls thrashing Finland 3-0 and completing a comprehensive 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic.

The Matildas will have one final send-off game at Jubilee Oval against Vietnam this Thursday at 6:30pm before heading to Canada for the World Cup.

Some of you might be familiar with the names of the 23 players selected in the squad. But if you’re not I’m here to give you a rundown of every player that is taking part for the Matildas in this World Cup.

There is one glaring omission from this squad with Kate Gill, arguably Australia’s greatest ever female footballer missing out. Gill has scored more international goals than Tim Cahill with 40 from her 83 caps.

1. Lydia Williams (goalkeeper), 13/05/1988, Washington Spirit, 40 caps
Williams brings lots of experience to this side with 40 caps. Born in Western Australia she played most of her junior football at Tuggeranong and Woden in the ACT. She started off with Canberra United in the W-League in 2008 and was part of the Matilda’s Asian Cup winning team of 2010.

Williams has also had stints at Pitea IF (Sweden) and more recently the Western New York Flash. Knee injuries have threatened her career with the talented keeper returning from her second knee reconstruction this year. In the local Canberra League she has been dominant in her quest to regain fitness for her local side Tuggeranong United.

2. Larissa Crummer (forward), 10/1/1996, Brisbane Roar, 4 caps, 1 goal
This girl is super talented. When she was just 14 years old she was brought into the Under-19s Australian schoolgirls football team.

After that she was dominant for her side the Peninsula Power in the Brisbane Women’s Premier League scoring 12 goals as a 15-year-old to lead them to the premiership. She has a good sense for a goal, and will only improve with more international experience.

3. Ashleigh Sykes (midfielder), 15/12/1991, Canberra United, 12 caps, 4 goals
Originally from Sydney, Sykes grew up in Dubbo and has been a star for Canberra United in the W-League. A former athletics champion Sykes has pace to burn and is usually seen getting on the end of long balls and finding her teammates with precise crosses.

She has improved with each season in the W-League and has been one of the main factors behind Canberra’s success.

4. Clare Polkinghorne (co-captain, defender), 1/02/1989, Brisbane Roar, 78 caps, 5 goals
A superstar of the women’s game Polkinghorne is a deserving co-captain. A great defender Polkinghorne also has a skill set to match.

During Brisbane Roar’s championship run in the A-League Polkinghorne was the main factor behind it. She has won two championships and one premiership, and is one of the more experienced girls in the team and will always lead by example. She is also a previous Julie Dolan medallist

5. Laura Alleway (defender), 28/11/1989, Brisbane Roar, 30 caps, 1 goal
Has had stints at the Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar and even Lincoln Ladies in the FA WSL (Football Association Women’s Super League) in England. Brings experience to the side and could form a crucial partnership with her Brisbane Roar teammate Polkinghorne.

6. Servet Uzunlar (defender), 8/03/1989, Sydney FC, 45 caps, 3 goals
Uzunlar is a Turkish-Australian who has won both the W-League premiership and championship with Sydney FC in 2009. She is an experienced player who loves the big stage, she was a part of the Matilda’s 2010 Asian Cup victory.

7. Steph Catley (defender), 26/01/1994, Melbourne Victory, 32 caps, 1 goal
Catley is another player who made an impression at a young age making her debut for the Victory in October 2009 at just 15 years of age. In the 2011-12 season she was named female footballer of the year after making the switch to defence. She has played over in America as well as playing for NSWL side the Portland Thorns.

8. Elise Kellond-Knight (defender), 10/08/1990, Brisbane Roar, 55 caps, 1 goal
Another star of the game who was part of Brisbane’s dominant 2008-09 premiership and championship winning team. She has a vast array of skills and was part of the Matilda’s 2010 Asian Cup winning team. In the 2011 Women’s World Cup she was that outstanding that she was named in the tournament’s All Star team.

9. Caitlin Foord (forward), 11/11/1994, Perth Glory, 28 caps, 3 goals
A youngster from Shellharbour who has come through the Illawarra Sports High School system. She starred for Sydney FC before plying her trade for Sky Blue FC in America. She was loaned back to Sydney FC but now plays alongside good friend Samantha Kerr in Perth.

In the 2011 Women’s World Cup Foord was named Best Young Player, while she has won the premiership and championship with Sydney FC in the W-League.

10. Emily van Egmond (midfielder), 12/07/1993, Newcastle Jets, 39 caps, 10 goals
A good friend of mine during my first year of college, Emily is the daughter of former Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond. She is well travelled, having played for the Newcastle Jets, Canberra United, Fortuna Hjorring, Western New York Flash, Seattle Reign FC, Western Sydney Wanderers and Chicago Red Stars.

As the reigning Julie Dolan medallist Van Egmond will be looking to dominate this World Cup, she is a power player who can score goals.

11. Lisa De Vanna (co-captain, forward), 14/11/1984, Melbourne Victory, 97 caps, 33 goals
A scary footballer in her younger days, ‘wild thing’ wouldn’t have been too far a nickname for De Vanna who always goes hard. She is a world class athlete and has an incredible strike rate in front of goals for a number of world class teams.

Earlier in her career she was a super-sub for the Matildas scoring more goals off the bench than she would as a starting player. Her dribbling is something purely special to the women’s game, and she is a big key in this World Cup for the Matildas.

12. Leena Khamis (midfielder), 19/06/1986, Sydney FC, 23 caps, 5 goals
Talented mature player (when you consider the age of this team) Khamis has won both the championship and premiership with Sydney FC and was also part of the 2010 Asian Cup winning team. In the first season of the W-League she finished on top of the goal scoring ladder with seven goals.

13. Tameka Butt (midfielder), 16/06/1991, Brisbane Roar, 45 caps, 6 goals
One of my favourite players in the W-League, Butt is a supreme athlete who has dominated the competition since she started. She has a long list of awards that include the Players’ Player award for the W-League in 2012-13, and she is the previous Julie Dolan Medallist before Van Egmond this year.

Butt claimed goal of the year for the Brisbane Roar last season, and has claimed a hat-trick in three W-League seasons in 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2012-13. She is the Roar’s all-time leading scorer with 40 goals, not bad for a midfielder. She has scored in four W-League grand finals so loves the big stage, and is my tip to be our best player at this World Cup.

14. Alana Kennedy (midfielder), 21/01/1995, Perth Glory, 27 caps
Kennedy has played for Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory in the W-League, she is a solid midfielder who has played at a variety of levels for Australia.

15. Teresa Polias (midfielder), 16/05/1990, Sydney FC, 8 caps
One of the more mature-aged players in the squad, she has previously represented the Young Matildas. Polias was a pivotal member in Sydney FC’s championship in 2012-13 where she played every minute of every game. She is not only a smart footballer, Polias also works full-time as a primary school teacher.

16. Hayley Raso (midfielder), 5/09/1994, Brisbane Roar, 12 caps, 1 Goal
Raso started her career in Canberra before moving to Brisbane. Raso is a talented youngster who plays on the wing, she will benefit from her first World Cup, and she has shown in the W-League that she can score a goal.

17. Kyah Simon (forward), 25/06/1991, Sydney FC, 49 caps, 10 goals
A special player Simon has played for a variety of teams including Central Coast, Sydney FC, Boston Breakers and Western Sydney Wanderers. Her 2010-11 season was something special.

She scored 11 goals in 12 games, while also becoming the Julie Dolan Medallist, Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year. She scored the winning penalty in Australia’s Asian Cup triumph, and she was the first ever indigenous player (male or female) to score for Australia in a World Cup.

18. Melissa Barbieri (goalkeeper), 20/01/1980, Adelaide United, 84 caps
The veteran of the side this will be Barbieri’s fourth World Cup. She has a list of achievements including the 2013-14 W-League Keeper of the Year, and is a former captain of the Matildas.

Barbieri was initially selected in the 1997 national camp as a midfielder before switching to the goalkeeper position in 2000. She brings a wealth of experience to this side and will be a mentor for a lot of the young girls.

19. Katrina Gorry (midfielder), 13/08/1992, Brisbane Roar, 29 caps, 10 goals
Youngster who can find the goals she has played for a host of teams in both the W-League and internationally. She made her debut for the national side in 2012 as a 19-year-old against Japan.

20. Samantha Kerr (forward), 10/09/1993, Perth Glory, 36 caps, 5 goals
The sister of former Eagles champion Daniel. Kerr is a special talent who has dominated the W-League since she was 16, where in 2009 she was named the Players’ Player and she also picked up the Goal of the Year award for a freakish effort against Sydney FC.

She has played in America for the Western New York Flash, and in the 2010 Asian Cup final, Kerr scored Australia’s only goal in the 1-1 draw which Australia eventually won on penalties.

21. Mackenzie Arnold (goalkeeper), 25/02/1994, Perth Glory, 6 caps
A young goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold is very talented. She has played for Perth Glory, Canberra United and the Western Sydney Wanderers. I expect her to play third string behind Williams and Barbieri.

22. Nicola Bolger (midfielder), 3/03/1993, Sydney FC, 5 caps
Was a part of Sydney FC’s 2009 premiership and championship double when she was just 16 years old. Has the talent and will gain plenty of experience from being a part of her first World Cup.

23. Michelle Heyman (forward), 4/07/1988, Canberra United, 33 caps, 11 goals
An absolute star of the game, Heyman scored one of the best goals you will ever see playing for local side Belconnen United in Canberra a few years back. She took the ball 30 yards out from goal and with great finesse she chipped the keeper with ease.

She won the Julie Dolan Medal and the Golden Boot award for Central Coast in 2009 scoring 11 goals in 11 matches. She has a similar strike rate at Canberra United since signing for them in 2010 and has been part of both Canberra’s two premierships and their one premiership.

A nightmare for defences Heyman always seems to find space, and has a deadly accurate shot in combination, she has pace and strength and could form a deadly combo with Simon, De Vanna or Kerr during this World Cup.

Other notables
The average age of the squad is 23, while 18 members of the squad finished runners-up in last year’s Asian Cup.

Outside of Barbieri playing her fourth World Cup, three players will head to their third World Cup (De Vanna, Polkinghorne and Williams). Ten players are playing their first World Cup (Arnold, Bolger, Catley, Crummer, Gorry, Heyman, Kennedy, Polias, Raso and Sykes).