Despite fitness concerns Matildas’ captain Sam Kerr’s long awaited homecoming is a step closer with the star striker named in the team set to battle for a spot at the Paris Olympics in Perth later this month.
Kerr, who missed the first three matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup with a calf injury, has had a less than ideal start to her domestic season.
She didn’t play any pre-season matches and wasn’t named on Chelsea’s squad list for the opening match with coach Emma Hayes saying Kerr “wasn’t ready”.
The forward did take to the field for the second half of Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester City at the weekend.
It will be the first time the Matildas have played in Perth, Kerr’s home state, since 2018.
They will play three matches over seven days against Iran (26 October), the Philippines (29 October) and Chinese Taipei (1 November).
Kerr will be joined by all but two of the squad from the World Cup, with Kyah Simon and Aivi Luik missing selection due to injury concerns.
Coach Tony Gustavsson has called on under-23 women’s national team captain Amy Sayer and 20-year-old striker Charlize Rule.
Gustavsson said with a spot at the Olympics on the line he wasn’t willing to mess with a squad which had proved it could deliver results, finishing fourth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“While we have had some time to reflect on the impact of this remarkable team on and off the pitch, the special trait of this group is that they are always looking to embrace the next challenge and that is now qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” he said.
“With just over 285 days to go until that opening kick-off in France, we have called up players that we know are ready to take us forward to the next phase of qualifying, while looking to reward a couple who have performed strongly in the U-23 Program.
“We are excited about the next chapter and continuing to build on the legacy for this team and it all starts in Perth.
“We understand the importance of high-quality performances and know these will be challenging matches against teams who will also be committed to continuing their journey to Paris next year.”
A strong performance in Perth doesn’t book the Matildas a ticket to Paris.
There are three groups in the Asian qualifiers, Australia being in group A. The top team from each group and the best ranked runners-up will go head to head in Round 3 in February with the winners of the two home and away games earning a spot at the Olympics.
The love for the Matildas is still strong post World Cup with the matches at HBF Park sold out and more than 50,000 tickets sold for the relocated game at Optus Stadium.
Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley (VC), Alex Chidiac, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Charlotte Grant, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr (C), Teagan Micah, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Charlize Rule, Amy Sayer, Emily Van Egmond, Cortnee Vine, Clare Wheeler, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop
Originally published as Matildas news: Australia name Sam Kerr in squad for Olympic qualifiers in Perth