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2019 World Cup Preview: Australia

Are these darkhorses, or more?

Australia v United States Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

For a long time, Australia has been recognized as one of the world’s good teams, but they’ve infrequently been great. They have amassed three consecutive World Cup quarterfinals berths, but only getting that far at this World Cup, with this squad, would be a letdown.

The Team

This is easily the best group of players that Australia’s ever had. Top to bottom there are players who are good to great, with a good mix of youth — more than 13 of the roster is 24 or younger. The time could be now for the Matildas.

How They’ve Fared

They missed out on the first World Cup in 1991, but Australia has qualified for all seven since.

How They Qualified

Australia won Group B at the 2018 Asian Cup, beating out Japan on goal differential, thus qualifying for the tournament.

Group

C, with Italy, Brazil, and Jamaica.

Player You Know

Sam Kerr should need no introduction. The 25-year-old star of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars has scored goals wherever she’s gone. She’s got almost as many goals (18) in Chicago as she does games (22), after scoring 28 in 40 games for Sky Blue FC. She’s credited with 31 goals for her country, which places her in fifth all time for Australia, 16 behind leader Lisa De Vanna, who has played almost twice as many games as Kerr. She’s won two golden boots in both the U.S. and Australia, one NWSL MVP, one Asian Football Confederation Footballer of the Year, and one ESPY for the Best International Women’s Soccer Player. If I could bet on the winner of the Golden Boot in France, I’d bet on Sam Kerr.

Player You’ll Know Soon

NWSL, and specifically Portland Thorns fans know who Ellie Carpenter is, but the rest of the world will find out this summer. Just 19 years old, but with 31 caps already under her belt, she’s become a permanent fixture at fullback in Portland, terrorizing the opposition with speed and fearlessness with the ball at her feet. Carpenter is a budding star, and the rest of the field will find out the hard way.

World Cup Outlook

Group C is not necessarily an easy one, though I anticipate Australia will beat Brazil to win it. If they do that, they would get one of the third place teams in the round of 16, and then potentially one of Canada, Japan, or England in the quarterfinals. I would be shocked if Australia doesn’t make it to the quarterfinals, but I’m not convinced yet that they’ll go further.