The Westfield Matildas will play Japan in the final of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan tomorrow morning (Saturday, 3am AEST) after they defeated Thailand on penalties in the semi-final of the competition earlier in the week.
Brisbane Roar FC goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made three saves in the shootout, while Sam Kerr tucked away Australia’s final penalty to win the match.
Australia have had played well in the three group games prior, which featured a 0-0 draw with Korea Republic, an 8-0 win over Vietnam, and a 1-1 draw with Japan, who they face in the final.
The group stage result meant Australia directly qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
On the back of the outstanding performances of our nation’s women’s team, Football Queensland takes a look at some of the Queenslanders representing Australia, and who will play key roles in the final.
Who better to start with then Brisbane Roar’s courageous 29-year-old captain, Clare Polkinghorne? Her tackling prowess and game awareness has established her as a linchpin in the Matildas defence, causing nightmares for strikers across the globe. After ten seasons, two championships, and over 100 caps for both club and country, Polkinghorne’s experience is vital to the Matilda’s squad.
Many believe the midfield is the engine of a football team, and for the Matildas, Katrina Gorry is the fuel that keeps that engine firing. The 25-year-old Queenslander, affectionately known as ‘Mini’, is known for her combination of silky ball skills, high energy, and tenacity on the pitch. Harbouring plenty of experience, the former AFC Women’s Player of the Year is a mainstay in Alan Stajcic’s squad.
Born in Orange, NSW, you could say she was destined to don the Roar jersey. The 26-year-old honorary Queenslander and former Mudgeeraba SC player has a knack for breaking down defences and scoring from midfield, with nine goals for the national team. Like Polkinghorne, Butt’s experience is crucial to the Matildas squad, with the former Young Matildas captain approaching the 70 cap mark for her nation.
This born and raised Queenslander is an up-and-coming star in Stajcic’s squad and at just 23, she will keep adding caps to her name in the future. Raso is a versatile player that can easily be deployed in either midfield or, as shown for the Roar this season, she can be a danger to the opposition up-front.
Taking her place between the sticks, this Gold Coaster is in a battle with the more experienced Lydia Williams for the number one spot in the Matildas squad. After five years on the road in the W-League, Arnold ventured home to Queensland to be the Roar custodian in 2017/18. The 24-year-old kept six clean sheets for the Roar and will be looking to take that unbeatable form into the national team. If her performance against Thailand is anything to go by, she may just make her home in the Matildas goalmouth.
At 27, Kellond-Knight is already a hugely experienced campaigner for the Matildas, with over 90 caps for Australia. Kellond-Knight’s career has taken her around the world as she plied her trade most recently in Sweden, after several stints in Germany. The Southport born midfielder was named in the All Star Team for both the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups, and will provide experience and know-how to an otherwise young Australian team.
Melbourne-born Gielnik moved to Brisbane at a young age, so Queensland wholeheartedly claims her. The powerful striker is known for her determination and dedication to her game. The 25-year-old has battled various injuries throughout her career but has always managed to overcome them. Most recently, she raced against the clock to be fit for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, booking her seat on the flight to Jordan just weeks before the tournament. Gielnik now helps young players, and runs a side business as a personal trainer and fitness consultant.
The skillful forward, born in Nambour, has bounced around the W-League since she made her debut for Sydney FC in 2012. The 22-year-old then had a two-year stint at Brisbane Roar which led to a transfer to Melbourne City where she won the 2017 W-League Golden Boot. That meteoric rise then saw her earn a dream move to USA club, Seattle Reign FC. Crummer continues to develop into one of the Matildas’ youthful wild-cards – a surprise packet with oodles of potential.
At 33-years-old, Aivi Luik is one of the senior players in the Matildas squad. Despite having played about a dozen games for Australia, Luik has amassed a hundreds of matches for clubs around the world in a career which has spanned the USA, Canada, Denmark, England, Iceland, and Australia. The midfielder considers The Gold Coast home, after spending much of her junior years based on the glitter strip. Her experience and midfield know-how will add depth to the Matildas and she will no doubt provide mentor-ship to the younger campaigners.
Another Gold Coast raised Queenslander, Casey Dumont spent her youth playing days with the likes of Palm Beach, Robina SA, and Burleigh SC. The shot-stopping goalkeeper has bounced around the W-League since she began her career with Brisbane Roar FC, having spent time with Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers, and finally Melbourne Victory. Matildas head coach Alan Stajcic brought Dumont into the Matildas on the back of an impressive 2017/18 W-League season, and she will no doubt be eager to push fellow Queensland Arnold in order to add to her handful of Australian caps.