England and Australia are poised to create history by advancing to their maiden Women’s World Cup final, a momentous occasion set to unfold in Sydney on Wednesday.
Australia’s head coach, Tony Gustavsson, whose team clinched a dramatic victory over France in a penalty shootout to secure a spot in the semifinals, emphasized that the co-hosts are driven by an unyielding mission and are far from finished.
Notably, the Matildas had never progressed beyond the quarter-finals before this tournament, whereas England, reigning European champions, are making their third consecutive appearance in the World Cup semi-finals.
Sarina Wiegman, the manager of the Lionesses, stressed the value of not taking anything for granted, speaking in light of their comeback from behind to defeat Colombia 2-1 in the quarter-final match. She underlined the significance of advancing far in the tournament but highlighted the team’s aspiration to secure victory and secure a place in the final.
The victor of this pivotal encounter will contend against Spain in Sunday’s final at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Australia has the chance to become the first host nation to reach the final since the USA’s triumph on home soil in 1999. Meanwhile, England aims to join the ranks of Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and the Netherlands by reaching both men’s and women’s World Cup finals.
In terms of rankings, England, holding the fourth spot, faces Australia, positioned 10th, in unfamiliar territory. Yet, despite their rankings, the Lionesses have faced challenges in finding their optimal form during this tournament. On the other hand, Australia enjoys the advantage of home support and a fervent crowd at the 81,000-capacity Stadium Australia.
Gustavsson acknowledged the disparities but noted that Australia, with its resource limitations, will confront a formidable opponent. Wiegman countered any assertions of underdog status for Australia, emphasizing their home advantage and strong crowd support. She anticipated a tight and intensely competitive match between two well-developed teams.
Gustavsson acknowledged the potential impact of the Sydney crowd on the match’s outcome, recognizing the vital support and belief from the fans as a significant factor.
As the match unfolds, the Lionesses will be without their leading goal-scorer of the tournament, Lauren James, due to suspension. In contrast, Australia’s captain and all-time top scorer, Sam Kerr, has yet to start a game in the World Cup due to injury.
This contest marks the first-ever meeting between the two nations in a Women’s World Cup. Australia emerged victorious in their recent encounter, an April friendly that ended England’s 30-match unbeaten streak and marked the Lionesses’ sole defeat under Wiegman’s leadership. Previous non-competitive encounters include a 1-1 draw in 2018 and two victories for England over Australia in 2015, with scores of 3-0 in March and 1-0 in October.