Matildas In Ireland & Official Retirement of a Legend
On the 22nd September, for the first time the Matildas played an international friendly against lowly ranked Ireland and lost 3-2. This was the Matildas first match after their semi-final loss to the U.S.A. at the Tokyo Olympics and not the way for superstar Sam Kerr to celebrate her 100th appearance as a Matilda. The best summary of the match was from manager Tony Gutsavsson when he said “We’re the Matildas. It’s in our DNA to always give 100%, to play a physical game, to be aggressive, to wear the crest on the chest and always play our best. It felt like Ireland wanted it more…that hurts to be honest.” To his credit he went on to say “I have to look myself in the mirror as well to ask could I have done something different to prep the team for that?”.
Was this match an aberration or was the top 4 finish at the Olympics one out of the box? Time will tell. Matildas were without PFA Player and young player of the year Ellie Carpenter, Arsenal striker Caitlin Foord , Emily Van Egmond and Kyah Simon from Spurs. The major disappointment from the match was the ACL injury to Chole Logarzo. These absences did help provide the opportunity for three players to make their debuts Clare Wheeler (213), Charlotte Grant (214) and Angie Beard (215) and they are all pictured in the collage above.
Commentators were critical of the midfield performance and lamenting that absence of Emily Van Egmond. I would also the note the importance of the injured Ellie Carpenter that consistently drives forward and usually sets up waves of attacks. The (permanent?) absence of Golden Generation defensive midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight has also had an impact. Hopefully the return of the some injured ‘Golden Generation” Matildas and more game time for the newbies will lift the Matildas performance. The real positive to come out of the game was Mary Fowler who scored a brace and is now playing at a whole new level .
On the other side following the retirements last month of Laura Brock (nee Alleway)(171) and Aivi Luik (169) the legendary Lisa De Vanna (124) also announced her retirement from the game (All pictured above). Lisa is the second highest capped Matilda scoring nearly a goal (47) a game in her 150 matches. Visit the De Vanna collection for details of her outsanding career and view her cards, stickers, programmes and other related items.
Socceroos break AFC World Cup Qualifying Record
The Socceroos won both their World Cup qualifying matches in September. With ten world cup qualifying wins in a row they now have the longest ever World Cup qualifying streak for Asian countries. Their first match this month was a home game against China on the 3rd September that due to COVID was played in the air conditioned Doha stadium. Most Socceroo fans would probably agree the game was probably our enjoyable to watch for a long time. The Socceroos won 3-0 with goals to Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil and MItchell Duke . The outstanding players were Boyle and Bundesliga player Adjin Hrustic. There was also a debut for Hull City Championship left back Callum Elder (614). All the aforementioned Socceroos are pictured above.
The second match was five days later in Vietnam. This was a much different affair with a Rhyan Grant header scored just before half time being the only goal of the game. The pitch was sub-standard, hot conditions and a very well organised Vietnam made it difficult for the Roos. I also thought the absence of Martin Boyle due to injury heavily impacted the effectiveness of the Socceroos attack. On a positive note it was good to the of Seattle Sounders Brad Smith get a game after long absence and Jackson Irvine and Matt Ryan play games which will hopefully mean they get to a start at their new clubs in Europe.
Panini issued a 387 Road To Qatar card collection featuring 21 nations. Unfortunately Australia was not one of the countries selected. However coming out of Serbia is a World Cup Qatar 2022 Asian qualifiers sticker collection. The collection comprises 644 stickers from 46 competing nations including 14 Australian stickers. The collection can be purchased as a set of stickers or a pre printed hardback book.
With start of the European season there have also been a number of Match Day programmes issued that feature Australians on cover. They include Hayley Raso at Manchester City, Martin Boyle at Hibernian, Ryan Williams at Oxford United and Kenny Dougall at Blackpool.
New additions with Kennedy as K2
The “Australian Jesus” as Josh Kennedy was known as for the most of his career, even after he got is haircut! is 16th player added to the collection. At the 2006 World Cup hardly anybody had heard of him having spent most of his career in the lower leagues of the Bundesliga and making his Socceroo debut only a few days before his substitute appearance in the 1st match against Japan. Towards the end of his Socceroo career he again came on as a substitute and this time scored the goal that confirmed the Socceroos qualification for Brasil. He unfortunately could not make his 3rd World Cup due to injury. The collection includes official club cards from his six different clubs in Germany, many different cards from his five years at Nagoa Grampus in Japan and a variety of Socceroo programmes, stickers and cards.
Other additions in September to the Catley and Carpenter collections are unofficial matchday programmes from the Matildas matches at the Tokyo Olympics. To the Catley collection there is also from Red Bubble a Kate32 designed 2020 Arsenal Kit and the flyer and ticket from her 92nd Matilda appearance in the international friendly against Ireland..