06/17 15:02 CDT Australia and Sam Kerr quiet the haters at the World Cup
Australia and Sam Kerr quiet the haters at the World Cup
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
Australia's path to the Women's World Cup was turbulent even before its upset
loss in the opening round.
That loss to Italy in stoppage time was a terrible start for a team that some
consider one of the tournament favorites. The Matildas feature Sam Kerr, their
back-flipping global superstar captain, and the forward has urged her teammates
to tune out criticism that followed the loss to Italy.
"Ah mate, It's just outside noise, we don't listen to the haters. Look at that
performance coming back from the deep," Kerr said. "I love these girls, they're
Italy scored in stoppage time, an upset considered the surprise of the World
Cup. But Australia beat Brazil 1-0 to earn a spot in the round of 16 and closes
Group C play at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, France against Jamaica on Tuesday.
Kerr has been feisty since arriving at the World Cup and the openly gay player
used Twitter this week to reveal a homophobic message she had received. Kerr
has been with the national team since 2009 and has 32 goals in 79 games.
But she hadn't scored in a World Cup until the opener when she put the Matildas
in front of Italy with a goal in the 22nd minute. She celebrated by punching
the corner flag in a tribute to Australian great Tim Cahill.
But Barbara Bonasea scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in
stoppage time, to give Italy the win and stun Australia.
The Italy loss was one Australia didn't need after months of controversy
surrounding the team. The Australian federation dismissed coach Alen Stajcic in
January after an internal review revealed a "toxic" team culture. Stajcic
denied any issues.
He was replaced by Ante Milicic, an assistant on Australia's men's team, who
had just a half-dozen exhibition games to prepare with his new team.
After the loss to Italy, Milicic suggested that his team would just have to
advance "the hard way." Indeed, the match against Brazil wasn't easy.
Australia fell behind two goals before rallying for a 3-2 victory on a
controversial own goal. The Matildas became just the second team to win a World
Cup match after going down two goals.
Afterward, Milicic addressed the critics of the team, too.
"The important thing is that we, as a staff, give these girls every opportunity
to do well in this tournament," he said. "The outside noise stays out."
Chloe Logarzo suggested it's characteristic of her nation to never quit, and to
ignore their detractors.
"The Australian mentality is to come out swinging," Logarzo said. "We like a
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports