Sam Kerr detail comes to light after Matildas' record win at Women's World Cup

More details around the injury to the Matildas captain have come to light after Monday night's World Cup masterclass.

Pictured left to right, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson and Sam Kerr.

Fresh details have emerged around the calf injury to Sam Kerr that kept the Matildas captain out of Monday night's record Women's World Cup triumph over heavyweights Canada. Facing the prospect of elimination before kick-off, the Aussies ended up finishing top of Group B after a thumping 4-0 victory over the Olympic Games gold medallists.

The stunning victory was the Matildas' biggest ever at a World Cup and ensured they topped the group on six points, with Nigeria securing the second spot in the knockout phase, courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Ireland in the group's other match. Australia's win was a stunning turnaround and helped under-fire coach Tony Gustavsson answer many of his critics, amid concerns the host nation couldn't win without Kerr.

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The Aussies provided an emphatic answer to those doubts on Monday night, with winger Hayley Raso starring in a two-goal display, striker Mary Fowler returning from concussion to score and stand-in skipper Steph Catley burying a late penalty to complete an incredible night for Australian football - all without the nation's talismanic leader.

Since injuring her calf before the Matildas' first group game, Kerr had been in a race against time to be fit for what always shaped as Australia's most crucial match against Canada. Speaking after the game, Gustavsson revealed that his inspirational captain was only ever going to play "limited minutes" if she was needed - thankfully a risk the Aussies didn't end up needing to take.

Sam Kerr rallied Matildas to win without her

The Matildas coach admitted it was actually Kerr's rallying call to her teammates to win without her before kick-off, that helped inspire the team's best performance of the tournament by some distance. “Part of the reason why I think they were so united and performed the way they did was what Sam said to the team: ‘Make sure you win without me so I can get another week to train and recover and get healthy'", Gustavsson told reporters after the game.

“The team responded and said: ‘Yes we will, you sit on the bench and we’ll win for you.’ You could see that conviction and commitment from the players so that Sam gets another week of training.” We agreed together to say if we can win us a week for her to not risk her to reinjure herself, we’re going to try to protect her and try to win without her.

Seen here, Sam Kerr roars in delight after Australia's Women's World Cup victory over Canada.
Sam Kerr roars in delight after Australia's Women's World Cup victory over Canada. Pic: Getty

"That was always the aim. If we would have been in a situation where we would have needed her, she was willing to take that risk and come on. But she was also very clear (by saying) ‘let’s not get to that point’ and we didn’t, so we were all very happy about that.”

With Fowler returning from concussion, Caitlin Foord starred all night down Australia's left flank and combined brilliantly with Catley. Right-back Ellie Carpenter was relentless while Emily van Egmond, who held her spot ahead of Cortnee Vine, justified her selection with a cool-headed performance in Australia's front two.

Centre-backs Clare Hunt and Alanna Kennedy were calming influences in defence, while Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry were busy all night in midfield. Watching it all unfold on the sidelines was Kerr, who rode every challenge and could be seen joking with teammates in a positive indication about where her mental state is at after her injury woes.

Kerr is still under an injury cloud and the extent of her calf injury will no doubt remain a closely guarded secret. Crucially though, the Matildas have bought their superstar captain another seven days to prove her fitness for the knockout stages.

Australia's reward for topping Group B is a round of 16 showdown against the Group D runner-up at Sydney's Accor Stadium on August 7. Currently, England (six points, +2 goal difference) tops that group and will play China (three points, 0) as second-placed Denmark (three points, 0) faces Haiti (0 points) in the final group games on Tuesday night, with all four teams still in contention to reach the knockout stage.

with AAP

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