Mackenzie Arnold has added a new layer to her heroic efforts for the Matildas on Saturday night, revealing she's been unwell for two weeks and not at 100 per cent. Arnold became an instant Australian icon after the goalkeeper saved three spot-kicks during a pulsating penalty shootout to send the Matildas into the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup for the first time.
The 29-year-old made a number of clutch saves during regulation and extra time to ensure the score remained locked at 0-0 and the game went to a penalty shootout. She then became the Matildas' hero as she stopped shots from Selma Bacha, Eve Perriset and Kenza Dali in the shootout.
'VERY DIFFICULT': Katrina Gorry's devastating family revelation after win
'THIS IS PATHETIC': Fans left raging over 'un-Australian' Matildas move
Arnold was awarded player of the match for her incredible display and was wiping away tears after full-time. But she revealed the tears were the result of illness rather than emotion.
It's as big as we've ever seen in Australia. We're sorry. It is! 🧤🇦🇺
Mackenzie Arnold was a unbelievable in the shootout. Now relive her heroics again and again.
And again and again.
The highlights 📲 https://t.co/3LVbnZa0vZ#FIFAWWC #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/VIBEQQf7ta
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) August 12, 2023
“I haven’t been too well in the last couple of weeks," she admitted. "So I’m still getting over that, hence the eyes – this isn’t tears, yet, it’s not tears. You’ve just got to do your job. I was always gonna play.”
Arnold said she wasn't fully healthy for either or the Matildas' wins over Denmark in the round of 16 and France in the quarter-final. But she was "never" going to miss either game.
“I will remember this night for the rest of my life,” she said. “I definitely haven’t processed it. That is the craziest game I’ve ever played, considering what was on the line.
“It’s going to take a long time to really realise what has happened and what I’ve done and what the team has done. I’m just super proud to be Australian right now."
Matildas fans in awe of incredible Mackenzie Arnold display
Arnold's heroics also came after the crushing moment she hit the post with what would have been the match-winning penalty. With the shootout locked at 3-3 after five kicks from France and four from Australia, Arnold stepped up to take a penalty of her own.
However she sent her shot straight into the post to keep France alive. Her ability to regroup and pull off two more clutch saves was nothing short of remarkable.
“To see the girls rally around me after I missed that and to keep going with the shootout and still have each other’s backs through the whole thing, I think that’s really what got us over the line,” she said.
There was also drama when Arnold was deemed to have come off her line early when she saved a shot from Dali. The penalty was re-taken, and Arnold denied Dali for a second time after guessing her French opponent would kick the same way again.
“It was a bit of a mind game to be honest, whether she’s gonna go the same way or change it up," she said. "But I backed myself and thankfully I got the save again. I switched it up between my technique and the new technique and it looks like it works.”
— Mark Bosnich (@TheRealBozza) August 12, 2023
Let's get Mackenzie Arnold to look into climate change. I reckon she can save the planet too. #Matildas
— Scott Dooley (@scottdools) August 12, 2023
— Erin Holland (@erinvholland) August 12, 2023
Takes guts for a keeper to take a penalty, let alone the final kick, taking personal responsibility on both sides of the equation..
Then to miss, have one retaken, stay focused, and keep pulling out incredible saves?
Mackenzie Arnold.#FIFAWWC https://t.co/TlyQinnyql
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) August 12, 2023
Blood pressure pumping but the Tillies brought it home!!!
Just awesome. And huge kudos to Mackenzie Arnold. What a bloody legend. pic.twitter.com/9jyWGdO9TN
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) August 12, 2023
Gonna tell my daughters this is Jesus pic.twitter.com/xY31CoTz85
— Commie Tommy (@correnterosso) August 12, 2023
Tony Gustavsson heaps praise on Mackenzie Arnold
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was full of praise for the way his keeper regrouped after her missed penalty. “It was almost like it was written in the stars when Macca walks up and takes that fifth one, right?" he said. "She saves one and then, you know, it’s meant to be – that’s how you feel.
“And then she hits the post, right? And then you go, ‘Okay, maybe it wasn’t meant to be’. And then you go through all those emotions.
“Then Clare Hunt comes up and you say, ‘Maybe it’s the World Cup debutant’s turn. Maybe that’s what’s written in the stars.’
“And then it comes down to 10 (penalty kicks) and (Cortnee) Vine steps up – a game changer, we know how important that is. A young player and World Cup debutant, to stay as composed as she does...
“I also have to mention Macca, missing the penalty kick and staying in the game and being that player who wins the game for us. It’s unheard of. That mental strength of hers is just … ”
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.