Yes, The Matildas Could Just Win The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup… Here’s Why

All roads lead Down Under.

Yes, The Matildas Could Just Win The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup… Here’s Why

Image: Getty

Say it quietly, but Australia has as good a chance as any to lift the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year on home soil. Australia may only sit 10th in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking with 13/1 odds – sixth favourite – to lift their first World Cup in Sydney in August, but recent performances in 2023 have shown this national side has turned a corner and are ready to prove it on the world’s biggest stage.

In front of a sold-out Marvel Stadium in Melbourne last week, Australia downed France in a defiant display to end their FIFA Women’s World Cup preparations with a win. The Matildas spent large parts of the game in their own half and without the ball but took what few chances they had to win the game 1-0 under the lights. As the final friendly comes to a close, the Matildas have thrown down the gauntlet to travelling teams in this year’s historic tournament, showing just how far this team has come, and how far they can potentially go.

Australia start their World Cup campaign against Ireland this Thursday 20 July at 8pm AEST, at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney. The new 80,000-capacity state-of-the-art football stadium opened its doors towards the end of last year and is the fitting venue for the Matildas as they continue their astronomical rise to the top of women’s football.

The Matildas enter the tournament as favourites to progress to the latter knockout stages and will hope to beat their previous finish in 2019 when they fell in the R16, losing to Norway on penalties. The winner of Group B will go on to face the runner-up in Group D, which includes Denmark and tournament rivals England.

Australia will of course have to see off Nigeria and Canada in order to top the group but anything short of that would be calamitous. The winners of Group B will be handed a seemingly more favourable tie against Denmark, assuming that England will top their group to face the runner-up in Group B, as expected.

The Matildas beat England 2-0 in April 2023. Image: Getty

There are of course many possible permutations when it comes to tournament football, but performances this year should give the Matildas a new-found belief that they can beat anyone on their day; Australia enters the tournament buoyed by two wins over favourites France and England in their last two games, as well as Cup of Nations victories over Jamaica, Spain and Czechia on their way to lifting the trophy in February of this year.

Led by one of the best players in the world, Australia will be hoping that Sam Kerr can replicate some of her world-class club form for her country on the biggest stage. Kerr has been scoring for fun in the famous gold shirt, ending the 2022 season with 12 goals in as many games for Australia; a global star at club level playing for Chelsea FC in the Women’s Super League, Kerr currently sits as the 9th most marketable athlete of 2022, sitting ahead of Alexia Putellas, Steph Curry and Kylian Mbappé.

When Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was appointed in 2020 on a four-year deal, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was firmly in his sights, and the Swedish coach has been able to instil this belief in his team, right when it matters most: “Obviously I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that [winning the World Cup] was possible. I’ve always said that Australia have the potential to beat the best on any day and the belief that we can do that is important to instil in everyone in and around the team.”

Sam Kerr undoubtedly stands tall as the poster girl of this year’s World Cup, but she is certainly not alone in this Matildas side – she only has to look around the changing room at the embarrassment of riches available to Gustavsson and this Australian team, with some of the biggest stars in Europe all fighting for a place in the starting XI: Players such as Manchester City defender Alanna Kennedy, Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley and Olympique Lyonais’ Ellie Carpenter, who are all determined to make their mark on this game with the eyes of the world watching.

“That just gives me goosebumps talking about it. I don’t think many of us have played in front of more than 50 or 60 thousand people.” Carpenter said ahead of the France game last week. “The feeling [on Friday] is you’re going to think, ‘woah, this is incredible’, and then having in the back of your mind next week is going to be double this,” Carpenter said.

Not only does Australia have the players, but they also have the belief. And in front of record-breaking crowds across the country, the Matildas might just start to believe that this could be their year… The Matildas kick off their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign against Ireland this Thursday 20 July at 8pm AEST.