Five Matildas players to watch (and some honourable mentions)

Steph Catley #7 is a big-game player whose calming influence in defence and precision in attack could prove crucial.

Steph Catley #7 is a big-game player whose calming influence in defence and precision in attack could prove crucial. Photo: Getty

Australian coach Tony Gustavsson has developed a Matildas squad with enviable depth in each position over the past three years.

That depth will be on full display when they kick off their World Cup campaign on Thursday night against the Republic of Ireland in Sydney at 8pm.

Captain Sam Kerr on Wednesday declared her side confident about contending for a maiden Women’s World Cup title.

Here are some of the game changers who could take Australia deep into the tournament and present it with the chance to capture the greatest prize of all – the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil.

Steph Catley

The crosses from open play and set pieces of the Arsenal defender, usually deployed at left back, could be pivotal to tapping into Sam Kerr’s aerial prowess. Versatile enough to deputise at centre back if needed, the Melbourne-raised star is a calming presence and classy contributor with that sublime left foot.


France-based Ellie Carpenter loves the challenge of playing against the best, such as Brazil’s legendary star Marta. Photo: Getty

Ellie Carpenter

A two-time Champions League finalist with Olympique Lyonnais at the age of 23, Carpenter has made a full recovery from a ruptured ACL and will likely be the energetic spark to launch attack after attack with her surging runs forward from her domain at right wing back.


Kyra Cooney-Cross lifts teammate Katrina Gorry after defeating European champions England at Brentford in April. Photo: Getty

Katrina Gorry

The missing link amid the Matildas form slump, the influential midfielder took time out to start a family (daughter Harper was born in 2021) before returning with a bang to coincide with the team’s reversal in fortunes. A player who seemingly always rises to the occasion, Gorry won the 2014 Asian player of the year and continues to shine at home and in Europe.


Caitlin Foord in full flight can create havoc for opposition defenders. Photo: Getty

Caitlin Foord

The Arsenal forward has always been integral to the Matildas’ attacking play, but the self-belief didn’t always accompany the undisputed talent. Thankfully, Foord has come out of her shell and is capable of turning a match in Australia’s favour with a moment of magic.

The sight all Australian fans want to see: Matildas captain Sam Kerr celebrating another goal. Photo: Getty

Sam Kerr

Australia’s best-known representative on the world stage, the star Chelsea striker even played her part as our flag bearer in King Charles III’s coronation. The nation will be copying Kerr’s trademark backflip goal celebrations if her scoring prowess can carry the Matildas deep in the tournament.

Honourable mentions

Mary Fowler – The Manchester City attacking midfielder brings a touch of class and accomplished finishing via her deadly left foot – as she demonstrated against France. Has the knack of creating something out of nothing.

Mackenzie Arnold, who has enjoyed a stellar season at West Ham United, could be integral to how far the Matildas progress. Photo: Getty

Mackenzie Arnold – The West Ham United goalkeeper has made her mark in the Women’s Super League with her shot-stopping ability to nudge veteran Lydia Williams out of the No.1 spot. Will be key to ensuring Australia advances beyond the group stages.

Hayley Raso – Newly signed for Spanish giant Real Madrid from Manchester City, the feisty winger has an uncanny ability of winning 50-50 challenges in the attacking zone and using her speed and boundless energy to press and set up chances for her teammates.

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