It’s hard not to blame myself: Kerr

Sydney, (UNI) Few players in the history of women’s football have been as consistently prolific as Sam Kerr.

Yet, of all the hundreds of goals she has scored across the world, Wednesday night’s might just have been her best yet.

Football being as it is, however, it won’t be that thunderous strike – and the almighty roar that greeted it – that Kerr will be thinking of as her head touches the pillow, and when she wakes up tomorrow. “That felt good at the time,” she said of her goal. “Not now.”

Rather than a stunning effort into the top corner, it was a volley blazed over from close range – just seconds before England’s decisive third goal – that was occupying the Matildas’ captain’s thoughts.

“That kind of chance for me is normally my bread and butter,” she told FIFA. “But unfortunately this World Cup hasn’t gone as planned for me. I would normally sink that, but I’ve trained maybe three or four times this whole World Cup. I can’t blame it all on myself, but it’s hard not to right now.”

Team-mates and opponents alike would have protested long and loud had they heard the mere suggestion. Millie Bright, in fact, entered the mixed zone wearing Kerr’s shirt – “I’ve wanted this for a long time,” the England captain said – and continued to wax lyrical about her Chelsea colleague.

The pair had enjoyed a titanic tussle throughout – “she’s not an easy player to keep quiet”, Bright acknowledged – and such respect from the Lionesses was readily reciprocated.

“It really was a good battle,” Kerr said. “I mean, we play with and against these girls week in, week out, so we know they’re all world-class players. We were up for it, they were up for it, and there really wasn’t much in it in the end. But someone has to lose, and it sucks that it’s us.”

Other Australian players spoke of feeling numb. “My calves feel like that!” Kerr said, attempting – but not quite managing – to muster a smile.

But as difficult as it might be to imagine this crestfallen, leaden-legged player picking herself up for yet another battle, the Matildas skipper insists that’s exactly what she will do. Inspiring her to find the mental and physical reserves, she says, will be the sight of the Aussie fans who created an astounding atmosphere in Sydney, and who’ll be out in force in Brisbane for the third-place play-off.

“It’s hard now because the disappointment is so raw, but looking up into the crowd tonight, with 75,000 people here again, we can see that we’ve really captured the nation,” Kerr said.

“The support we’ve had has been amazing and we’ll do everything we can at the weekend to get those fans third place. The amount of people who’ve come out to support us, who’ve been there at our hotel, I’ll say it again: it’s been amazing. We never could have dreamed about this kind of support,” she said.

“So yeah, we have to pick ourselves up and go again. And we’re going to do everything to win third. Tonight we’ll need to process this but tomorrow we’ll be back up, ready to go to Brisbane – and hopefully to make everyone proud,” Kerr added.

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