Katrina Gorry has laid bare the brutal reality of the Matildas' loss for a number of their veteran players, revealing she's most likely played her last World Cup. Gorry was immense again for the Matildas on Wednesday night, running nearly 10km in the 3-1 loss to England that ended their fairytale campaign.
Australia's run to the semi-finals captivated the nation, but left us equally heartbroken that it's all over (save for Saturday night's third-place playoff). For Gorry and a number of ageing Matildas players, their World Cup dream looks to be over for good.
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A number of the Matildas top players are either on the wrong side of 30 or not far off it - meaning the 2023 World Cup will go down as a golden opportunity gone begging. Lydia Williams (35), Clare Polkinghorne (34), Aivi Luik (38), Kyah Simon (32) and Tameka Yallop (32) are the squad's oldest players.
Sam Kerr (29), Steph Catley (29), Gorry (31) Caitlin Foord (28), Alanna Kennedy (28), Hayley Raso (28) and Emily van Egmond (30) will all be at the tail end of their careers or retired by time the next World Cup rolls around in 2027.
Gorry made the heartbreaking admission that she's likely played her last World Cup. "Everyone's gonna be hurting. I think the veterans probably more - we don't really have another World Cup in us," she told reporters after the game on Wednesday night.
"So it's a tough one to swallow at the moment. But, we'll all get around each other, we'll make sure that we're ready to go for the next game. Because we want that bronze medal. It's dangling right in front of us, Australia has got us here so far, we're not gonna let them down."
When asked whether the Matildas would be stronger for the loss and the experience gained in making the semis, Polkinghorne shrugged and said: "I think we will. But I don't know - being at home, a lot of people were getting behind us and supporting us and it was just incredible the amount of support we got. So we'll learn from it and be better."
Matildas young guns provide glimpse into the future
Vice-captain Catley, who has now played three World Cups, pointed to emerging talents like Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross as reason why Australia should be optimistic for the future. "It does take a while and I think we've made enough quarter-finals, enough round of 16s," she said.
"You learn a lot from those moments and some of these young girls that have just stepped in and they've now played in a semi-final, they're gonna learn so much and they're gonna be so much more prepared for the next time it comes around and that's something that a lot of us haven't had. So the fact that they've got that now so early in their careers is massive.
"Some of the players that we've seen come through: Mary, Kyra, the way they've performed, Clare Hunt, there's so many. They just stepped up - they look so ready, they've got long careers ahead of them and yeah, hopefully we're developing loads more girls that can come in and step in when they need to. Hopefully us old ducks can hold on a little bit longer and push for some more trophies."
The Matildas' World Cup campaign isn't over quite yet. They will now travel to Brisbane for the third-place playoff against Sweden on Saturday night at 6pm. "We're not leaving here empty-handed," Cooney-Cross said.
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