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Matildas hope for Kerr miracle in do-or-die Canada game

The Matildas won't know until the very last minute whether Sam Kerr will play against Canada.

The Matildas won't know until the very last minute whether Sam Kerr will play against Canada. Photo: AAP

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson hopes Sam Kerr can return against Canada as the forward’s teammates insist they can lift themselves off the canvas to keep their Women’s World Cup hopes alive.

Australia must beat the Olympic champions at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Monday to seal their place in the round of 16 after a disastrous 3-2 loss to Nigeria in which they let slip a 1-0 lead in Brisbane on Thursday night.

The Matildas (three points, goal difference 0) sit third in Group B behind Nigeria (four points, +1) and Canada (four points, +1).

A draw against world No.7 Canada, who beat Australia 1-0 in Brisbane and 2-1 in Sydney last year, likely won’t be enough to avoid an embarrassing group-stage exit on home soil – unless Ireland beat Nigeria by more than two goals at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia last failed to make it out of the group stage in 2003 and falling short of that marker could well cost Gustavsson his job.

The two Group B games kick off simultaneously at 8pm AEST on Monday night.

Kerr, Australia’s all-time leading scorer with 63 goals in 121 games, injured her left calf the day before the Matildas’ opening game against Ireland.

Gustavsson must now consider rolling the dice on the superstar forward as Australia risk exiting the tournament without their captain playing a single minute.

Asked about the prospect of Kerr taking the field, strike partner Caitlin Foord bluntly said: “That’s the plan”.

Gustavsson could only offer: “All I can say now is that I hope so.

“I know it’s going to be tight. Most likely not getting confirmation on that until the night before the game and we’ll go from there.

“It might even be we have to test her on game day. That’s how tight it is.”

Kerr will be putting her hand up to play.

“Of course she will. That’s going to be her mindset and that’s what I love about Sam,” Gustavsson said.

“She’s going to give anything she can to be out there.

“She deserves to be out there and if she can be out there she will be.

“We have to come up with a plan together to see what’s the best way to maximise the minutes she has, if she’s available.”

Fellow striker Mary Fowler should return from concussion and would be a welcome addition after the Matildas lacked a clinical edge against Nigeria.

“Everyone has the capability to score those chances, but those two are very well known for their scoring ability,” substitute Alex Chidiac told reporters.

“If we have them back in the team, of course that’s a boost for us. But I still back everybody out there to be able to do the job.”

Chidiac insisted the Matildas could yet pull their campaign out of the fire.

“You look at all World Cups in history, male and female, and teams face adversity and they bounce back. We’re a team that thrives off that,” she said.

“I have no doubt we’re going to be able to bounce back.

“We have had things (go) against us with injuries and various things on the outside, but we back ourselves massively going into this game.

“We’ve got every ambition to win (against Canada) and to top our group and go forward.”

– AAP

Topics: Matildas
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