Alanna Kennedy truth comes to light after absence from Matildas' semi-final loss

Football Australia has revealed the real reason the defender missed the Matildas' clash with England.

Alanna Kennedy

The last-minute omission of key Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy has been a major talking point in the wake of the 3-1 semi-final loss to England, and the real reason for her absence has now come to light. The football world was caught by surprise when Kennedy's name did not appear on the final team sheet ahead of kick-off, ruled out by doctors due to 'illness'.

However Football Australia has since revealed that Kennedy is suffering delayed concussion symptoms stemming from the Matildas' dramatic quarter-final win over France last weekend. Kennedy took several heavy knocks during the game and notably clashed heads with France striker Eugenie Le Sommer.

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Football Australia announced on Friday that Kennedy won't be available for the third-place game between Australia and Sweden on Saturday night either. Kennedy's absence for the semi-final was revealed just 90 minutes before the game began, but coach Tony Gustavsson said the Matildas had known since early in the afternoon.

Alanna Kennedy, pictured here during the Matildas' win over France in the quarter-final.
Alanna Kennedy copped a knock to the head during the Matildas' win over France in the quarter-final. (Photo by Chris Hyde - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Matildas cruelled by Alanna Kennedy absence in semi-final

The Matildas coach lamented the absence of the veteran defender, saying the team had confronted a number of unforeseen challenges throughout their World Cup run. Gustavsson said the relatively limited amount of time the Matildas had to prepare for Kennedy's absence had burned them, with defensive lapses costing them dearly against the Lionesses.

He was full of praise for veteran Claire Polkinghorne, who started in Kennedy's place, but said it was ultimately a problem that proved too difficult to solve on the fly. "It seems to be one of those tournaments where curve ball after curve ball has been thrown at us, and I think the team has been tremendous at being able to adapt at whatever has been thrown at us," he said.

"At lunch time today we got the notice from the medical team that Alanna was ruled out, we had to make a last minute change. We've done a lot of those this tournament and been really, really good at dealing with it.

"Clare Polkinghorne is very experienced, mentally has no problem stepping in to play the game, but the challenge for her was she hasn't played a game for a very, very long time (and is) coming back from injury - so it hurt (having) the limited game time and limited training time coming into this tournament," he said.

"And also Sam (Kerr) the limited training time, you could see both were two players that really, really needed to dig deep in the second half. The ones that had a lot of minutes in them were brilliant in the second half, not that Polks and Sam weren't brilliant."

Matildas smash TV records again in Women's World Cup semi-final

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Matildas have taken heart in the seismic impact their World Cup run has had on the game in Australia. After their quarter-final penalty shootout win over France was among the most-viewed television broadcasts in recent history, Wednesday's semi-final shattered the benchmarks they'd set just days earlier.

The Seven Network revealed on Thursday morning that a staggering peak of 11.15 million viewers turned in to watch the blockbuster showdown, with an average of 7.13 million. The bonkers figure breaks the all-time record of 8.8 million who watched Cathy Freeman's iconic gold medal run in the 400m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The Seven Network also said 957,000 viewers watched on their streaming service 7plus, which also broke a record.

Sam Kerr reacts after the Matildas' loss to England.
Sam Kerr and the Matildas were heartbroken after their loss in the World Cup semi-final, but the Matildas' impact will be felt for years to come. (Photo by James Whitehead/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

The semi-final had a peak of 6.9 million viewers on TV broadcast alone - which was 89.8 per cent of the total commercial television audience on Wednesday night. It means that roughly nine out of 10 Australians who were watching commercial TV were watching the Matildas.

Australia was captivated last night as the Matildas played their hearts out and did us all proud,” said Lewis Martin, Seven Melbourne’s Managing Director and Head of Network Sport. “Although their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 journey ended last night, the Matildas have re-written the history books and captured the hearts and minds of the nation with a performance that is sure to inspire generations of Australians for many years to come. The Matildas’ performance captured the Australian spirit like nothing we have seen in decades.”

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