The Matildas' ability to win without Sam Kerr has once again been called into question after Tony Gustavsson's side offered very little in attack in back-to-back losses to Canada. After a 5-0 thumping last week, the Matildas improved on Wednesday but went down again - this time 1-0.
Canada sent off retiring legend Christine Sinclair in fitting fashion, with a 40th minute header from Quinn proving the match-winner. The back-to-back losses came after Australia thrashed Canada 4-0 at the Women's World Cup earlier this year, but the absence of Kerr (foot) and goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold (arm) was telling.
'NOT SUSTAINABLE': Phoenix star Chloe Knott quits football in shock move
The Matildas had just six shots and none on target compared to Canada's 12 and four on target in a very tired-looking performance. Gustavsson highlighted the Matildas' lack of speed up front without superstar striker Kerr.
Cortnee Vine (hamstring) and Holly McNamara (ACL tear) were also missing, limiting Australia's speedy options to just wingers Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso. "What concerns me a little bit now is the lack of pacy options up front in the four front positions - No.7, No.11, No.9 and No.10," Gustavsson said after Wednesday's 1-0 loss.
"With McNamara getting injured again and then Vine being out and Sam out, that's something we need to look into how to handle that going forward. Because we had a very clear idea of how to do that in the World Cup and we managed to play without Sam in a very, very good way to win at the World Cup which I'm impressed that the team handled well."
Gustavsson suggested there was also room to add defensive depth to his squad before the Matildas' Olympics playoff against Uzbekistan in February. "I have a pretty clear idea of the core group," he said. "But then there's some spots there that is up for grabs as well and it's up to players to now compete for it and show me that they want it and make it difficult for me - which I want them to do."
Football world reacts to disappointing Matildas showing
Leading football pundit Andy Harper was scathing of the Matildas' showing against Canada. "The scoreboard was a marked improvement from the weekend, but in relative terms, was the performance that much better? I'm not quite sure," he said on Channel 10.
" For the best team we've got minus Mackenzie Arnold and Sam (Kerr), it was so flat, so unimaginative. We've been told that we're trying to re-engineer the way we play to take the team to the next level and that's understandable and fine, but the two-game window provided very little evidence of how that's gaining traction. Saturday's game is almost irrelevant now because none of those players got to feature again to see how they would go."
Former Matildas player Grace Gill said the Aussies can't afford to get ahead of themselves and start thinking about the Olympics. " It's not given. It's not granted that qualification is going to occur," she said.
"The Matildas can't get their eyes to the Olympics because they've got to get their eyes past Uzbekistan in the first instance. I think it'll feel like a disappointing result, not for the scoreline, but for the performance.
"When it came to the second half it looked like the Matildas became tired, they became leggy, and there could've been a few more changes to inject some energy into the team. I don't think we saw enough given the quality we lined up today. It's fair to say they dominated the game on balance."
Sam Kerr was missing up front !
— Karl Socceroos (@socceroosaussie) December 6, 2023
Yeah Sam Kerr is amazing. Her movement off the ball is so impressive. I’ll never understand how anyone can complain about her. As Emma Hayes said “she wouldn’t trade Sam for any other player in the world”. Her level of consistency over the year’s has been ridiculous.
— Nicole (@nrstanley01) December 6, 2023
— NENYECHELSEA (@IyawoChelsea) December 6, 2023
Back to back L for the Aussie without Sam Kerr 🤧
— WH¥B£€ (@Fab_DJWhybee) December 6, 2023
Yep, 1 really good chance at goal, blasted over the top. We really missed Sam Kerr, and it showed
— Seano332 (@Seano332) December 6, 2023
We should really appreciate the player that Sam Kerr is. We are so so lucky to have a player like her. High-level consistent goal scorers are a rarity. Complain all you want about playing the ball to Kerr, but she makes the runs and gets herself in the positions to justify it.
— Nathalie Brough (@nbrough) December 6, 2023
Ok I’m glad Sam Kerr stayed in England this pitch is awful
— whats that got to do with me (@honestlyhateful) December 6, 2023
Only 1 sub used in a friendly is pathetic #Matildas
— Jordan Klingsporn 🦘 (@JordanTHFCFFC) December 6, 2023
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.