It has been a frantic few days for the team, but very rewarding all around.
Following the nerve-wracking win over Equatorial Guinea, where in truth two errors by the Matildas made it a closer game than it really was, we headed to Leverkusen to film some overlay shots.
Whereas Bochum had turned out to be a far more interesting and enjoyable place than we had been lead to believe, Leverkusen, was a major disappointment. This town is built entirely around Bayer pharmaceuticals and it can only be described as industrial. We filmed some footage and were in fact panicking that we would not have enough, but then discovered a series of football related sculptures at the Bay Arena home of Bayer Leverkusen and where the Matildas took on Norway.
This was a stunning ground and the facilities were five star, for players and media alike. Once again though information from some volunteers was hard to glean.
The day before the game saw us meet Kyah’s family as Janssen and Maluga – our sponsors had arranged for her brother Wes to train with St Tonis, who that night happened to be playing Borussia Monchengladbach under 10’s. Credit must go to both clubs who went out of their way to make him welcome, although Borussia were unbelievably good, and had it not been for the Tonis goalkeeper the score would have been far greater.
Following this Janssen and Maluga took both the Simon Family, Lydia’s mother and our team to dinner at Villa Medici in Krefeld. Michael Janssen and his wife Tanya hosted us and it was an incredible evening with the food absolutely divine. Thank you to Giuseppe who owned the restaurant for making us so welcome, we hope you wore the scarf!
The next day was game day and I have to say I was extremely nervous. I have grown to love this team and their attitude and desperately wanted them to get through the group stage, a draw against Norway would achieve that.
No score at half time, and then in the 56th minute Norway seized on a defensive error and took the lead. Amazingly within one minute the Matildas were level, Lisa de Vanna working wonders down the left to set up Kyah Simon to score her first World Cup goal, and the first at a World cup by an Aborigine, male or female.
In the 87th minute Kyah doubled her tally and the Matildas were home, once again making the Quarter Finals. They showed great respect for Norway by forming a guard of honour for their team back at the hotel. This was the first time Norway had not progressed from the group stage and the first time Australia had beaten them. Now its time to take on Sweden.
Looking at the game it was great that Kyah scored for our story, as Tom Sermanni said, it’s made our story; my reply was, it will if he plays Lydia and Kyah in the same game!
Elise Kellond-Knight was again superb for the Matildas and has to be a challenger for the team of the tournament. The mercurial de Vanna was also outstanding, but was starved of the ball when she had made some superb runs. Clare Polkinghorne added bite in midfield, while McCallum had a very quiet game. Kim Carroll was a rock at the back, as Uzunlar still looked low on confidence. Kyah’s two goals were the icing on the cake, and to have scored them after popping her shoulder made them all the more special.
Mind you having to be drug tested after was a little annoying and meant we had to wait 2 hours in the mixed zone. The plus was only ESPN and us hung around till Kyah came through.
It has been all gold the past few days and we hope that this continues as we head to Augsberg, having had our good friends at Janssen and Maluga, and Michael in particular help us with all the logistics.
Keep going girls we know you can go all the way!