Australian fans were left baffled throughout the Matildas' heartbreaking 2-0 loss in the third-place playoff on Saturday night after Sweden's yellow kit confused viewers. The Matildas were seeking history playing in their first-ever playoff game after a historic run to the World Cup semi-final.
However, Tony Gustavsson's team appeared slightly fatigued as the game wore on as Sweden claimed a 2-0 win to record yet another third-placed medal for the nation. Unfortunately for the Matildas, it meant no medal at their home World Cup despite a thrilling journey that has captivated the nation.
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The Matildas started the game in the mint away jersey. Sweden wore yellow and blue pants. This is because there is no 'home' team at a World Cup. And because the green and gold of Australia would have clashed with the yellow of Sweden, a toss of the coin would have decided who wore the home strip.
For viewers tuning in at home, many admitted they constantly became confused throughout the contest. Some even admitted they were barracking on for Sweden in the first few moments having not realised the change. And fans made a number of hilarious admissions on social media while watching the Matildas.
I woke up just in time to catch the World Cup Semifinal, but it took me a couple of minutes to figure out that it was the Swedes playing in yellow, not the Matildas. Makes you wonder why the hosts didn't get to rock their home jerseys, huh? Sweden are the Bronze medalists. Rolfo…
— Febin (@febinvthomas) August 19, 2023
— Steph Bruno-Newton (@Steph_Bruno_) August 19, 2023
— Gray Connolly (@GrayConnolly) August 19, 2023
The yellow jersey thing is hurting my brain #Matildas
— Psychedelic Camel (@becauseufollow) August 19, 2023
— alysha 💚💛 (@venomhaven) August 19, 2023
— Kitch 🇦🇺 (@kitchtrips) August 19, 2023
The jerseys are already messing with me, I keep looking at the Swedes thinking it's us #Matildas
— Andy (@Skualg) August 19, 2023
The Matildas were rocked early on when Sweden were awarded a penalty when Clare Hunt accidentally clipped Stina Blackstenius' heel in the box. The penalty was correctly awarded, despite the protest, and Fridolina Rolfo converted from the spot.
The game went back-and-forth with the Matildas enjoying the open space to launch counterattacks. However, as the game wore on, the Matildas looked fatigued as they turned to long balls in an attempt to catch Sweden out.
And Kosovare Asllani sealed the game with a spectacular strike in the second-half. Asllani found Blackstenius in space after driving forward, before the ball was returned on the edge of the area. And Asllani unleashed a drive that Mackenzie Arnold couldn't save.
After the game, Kerr admitted she was devastated to have fallen so short of claiming a bronze medal for her country. "It will take a while obviously," she said.
"It took me a while to get over the bronze medal match loss to the USA and the sadness comes from just feeling like you missed an opportunity. What we've done for the country is amazing, but the bronze medal really, for us as individuals, as a team would have been nice. So it's a bit sad, but we'll get over it and we'll move on and come back stronger."
Matildas face harsh scheduling drama at World Cup
The Matildas' fatigue could have come down to the fact they were given one less day to rest and prepare than Sweden, who played their semi-final on Tuesday night. Australia and England played their semi 24 hours later on Wednesday night, meaning the Matildas had just two days to prepare for the third-place game compared to Sweden's three.
And it's a similar story for the final, with Spain afforded four days to rest and prepare compared to England's three. The farcical situation also stretches back to the quarter-finals, which saw Australia and England play last Saturday and Spain and Sweden play last Friday.
The scheduling is understandable for the quarter-finals considering there are four games to be played. But surely both of the semi-finals should have taken place on the same day so neither team got an extra advantage ahead of the final and third-place game.
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