The Matildas knock the mighty Brazilian soccer team out of the World Cup, while Australian golfer Jason Day displays amazing courage and skill at the U.S. Open golf tournament. Lachlan Barker reports.
Australia’s women’s national soccer team, The Matildas have defeated Brazil in the first round of the knockout phase of the World Cup, to move through to the round of eight. This was the first time any Australian national soccer team has won a knock out match at a World Cup, although they did make the quarter finals at the 2011 World Cup, where there was no round of 16.
They won 1-0, courtesy of a Kyah Simon goal in the 80th minute. Katrina Gorry won the ball in midfield and played a slide rule pass through the Brazilian defence into the path of that busy wide midfielder Lisa De Vanna. De Vanna put a placed left foot shot on goal and Brazilian keeper Luciana was unable to hold the ball. Luciana parried it away and it fell into the path of the looming Simon, who slotted it neatly to take Australia into the lead and, subsequently, into history.
So, the Matildas have now claimed their own place in the annals of soccer high achieving. Indeed, sort of two spots in the record books. Not only did they qualify, but they beat Brazil to do it. Although Brazil are "only" ranked seventh in the world of women’s football, there is something about those yellow shirts topping blue shorts that instills fear into the heart of anyone playing against them. So, to beat a major nation like this was terrific stuff.
The match itself wasn’t great, indeed matches in the sudden death phase rarely are. This is due to most players not wishing to make a mistake, and so expansive play is rare. However, both teams showed flashes of fire.
Australia’s Samantha Kerr for instance nearly pulled off the goal of the tournament in the tenth minute. A corner came over from the left, grazed a Brazilian defender’s head, then carried on out to the right flank. Kerr met it on the volleyand lashed it back in toward goal. Her shot grazed the wrong side of the post and hit the side netting before spinning out over the by line.
If it had hit, it would have been a goal to savour, reminiscent of the famous goal by Dutch ace Marco Van Basten for The Netherlands against Russia.
That would have been something for Sam Kerr to place in the scrap book, no error.
Brazil came close a couple of times. A long range strike in the first half from Formiga drew an excellent flying save from Lydia Williams in the Australian goal. Then, in the second half, a Brazilian header hit the post and flew away. However, it was all to no avail and Australia now go through to play the winner of Japan and The Netherlands.
Other teams through are China, who will play the winner of Colombia v the United States. While the other half of that side of the draw has been decided, and sees Germany and France through to contest that quarter final.
Elsewhere in the world of women’s sport, the netball grand final was played over the weekend and saw the Queensland Firebirds home to victory against the NSW Swifts. The Firebirds scored the last five goals of the encounter to record a thrilling last gasp victory, 57-56.
I felt for the women of my home state (NSW), I really did. Bad enough losing a grand final, bad enough losing by a single point, but no doubt the worst part was losing in such fashion to Queensland.
However, that does rather allow a neat segue into the State of Origin rugby league. NSW won the second match defeating Queensland 26-18. That makes the series 1-1 with one game to come at Lang Park, Brisbane on July 8.
However, while I was happy with NSW winning, as ever, I was less than impressed with the coverage, reprising my eternal bleat about the two main footy codes on Australian TV, Aussie rules and Rugby League. This bleat is, of course, alcohol and gambling ads.
These were of course at saturation point, indeed one of the reasons the game now kicks off at 8.30, rather than the previously more family friendly 7.30, is so that the entire game is conducted during legal alcohol advertising times.
Now, I’m not against anyone having a drink if they choose, but considering a study in 2010 indicated that alcohol abuse costs Australia an estimated $36 billion a year, then saturating our TV screens with more urgings to drink hardly helps the situation. Alcohol sponsor logos were prominent on both teams’ jerseys of course.
And then there was also the integrated gambling ads to go alongside the alcohol. So, if you had any money left over from buying your booze, then you could whip out your phone and place a bet online and thus lose whatever money you had left.
The gambling ads are equally insidious, as they are likewise “part” of the broadcast, with the spokesperson from the sponsoring betting company coming on before the game and at half time to give you the various betting lines.
Appalling stuff, really, considering there would have been a large number of adolescent rugby league fans – of both sexes – watching and absorbing the message: "get drunk and gamble as soon as you are of legal age".
On the up side with the forward rush of technology, I was at least able to sync the ABC radio app on my phone with the TV broadcast pictures and watch the game at least free of the sounds of the terrible advertising.
Also on the up side, a story of courage from the U.S. Open golf came through over the weekend. Australia’s Jason Day suffered severe vertigo during the second round, on Friday U.S. time. So bad was it that he collapsed at the end of that round. It is a condition he has been battling for the last six months.
However he returned the next day and fought all through the third day to finish tied for the lead with the shadows lengthening across Chambers Bay course, in Washington State, on the Pacific North West coast of the USA.
Day faded on the last day and finished on the ninth tier of players at even par, with Speith coming home to win at five-under.
All the same, it was an heroic effort from Day; anyone who has had vertigo will know that the first thing that goes is your balance and since everything about the golfing swing is to do with balance, it shows just how hard he fought through to the end.
So, at the end of the day, it’s one victory each for NSW and Queensland, a victory of courage for Jason Day, and a victory for Australia overall with the Matildas.
As ever, we now look toward the coming weekend for our soccer women’s next match and say "Go Matildas!"
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