Matildas: Sam Kerr picked for Olympic qualifiers in Perth

With a spot in the Olympics at stake, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has called on all available members of his World Cup squad for upcoming qualifiers in Perth despite all three opponents being ranked outside the top-40 teams in the world.

All but two of the Matildas who took the whole of Australia on a stunning ride to the World Cup playoffs have been named, including captain Sam Kerr, who played her first minutes in the UK coming off the bench for Chelsea on Monday as she continues to recover from a calf injury.

Kerr will be hoping to play in her home state for the first time since 2018, with three opportunities from the first against Iran on October 26, with the second clash against the Philippines to be played at the 50,000 seat Optus Stadium.

Kyah Simon, who is playing in the A-League women’s competition that begins this weekend, and Aivi Luik are the only World Cup squad members missing.

The Matildas will play three matches over seven days against Iran, the Philippines (October 29) and Chinese Taipei (November 1), with Chinese Taipei the highest-ranked team at 40.

The Philippines are ranked 54 despite recording their first World Cup win at this year’s tournament, with Iran ranked 70th.

Despite the opposition, Gustavsson said every match his group played together was crucial for success in Paris in 2024.

“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 under-23 program.

“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.”

The Matildas need to finish top two in their group to progress to the final stage of Olympic qualifying in February.

MATILDAS SQUAD:

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.

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