(Australian Associated Press)
The Matildas are focused on carving their own history against Italy on Sunday rather than taking any motivation from the Socceroos’ painful exit from the men’s FIFA World Cup in 2006.
In fact, star forward Caitlin Foord hasn’t even seen the game.
The Socceroos were knocked out of the World Cup 13 years ago when the Italians received the most infamous penalty awarded in Australian soccer history.
Lucas Neill brought down Fabio Grosso in injury time, allowing Francesco Totti to slot a penalty past Mark Schwarzer and the Italians to march on to win the tournament.
It’s one of the seminal moments in the Australian game.
But it’s not even on the Matildas’ radar ahead of their Women’s World Cup opener against Italy on Sunday.
“I didn’t watch that,” Foord said.
“I wouldn’t even know what happened in the game.”
While there’s mutual support and admiration across the aisle between the men’s and women’s game, they’re very much on different tracks.
After all, the men’s game is professional across the world, swimming in money and attention, sitting at the top tier of worldwide sport.
The women’s game is scratching for the same support, as evidenced by the players’ claim for a World Cup pay rise this week.
The Matildas do have a tremendous share of well-wishers though, who are much appreciated by Foord.
“You definitely feel the support from Australia. Once it gets closer to the games you feel that a lot more,” she said.
“At the same time we’re all just so focused. To be honest I haven’t read anything online. I don’t want to be distracted … I don’t really need any outside noise.”
After two days off following their unfortunate 3-0 loss to the Netherlands, the team’s attention is now fully on Italy.
They re-convened for a final training session in Eindhoven on Wednesday before taking the team bus across the border to Valenciennes, the site of their tournament opener.
The team have dismissed the scoreline against the Dutch and are keeping positive ahead of facing Italy.
“We were playing our football and creating chances. Pretty good chances. Any other day those would have gone in,” Foord said.
“The game against Holland just wasn’t our day. That game didn’t make us or break us. It was just one game.”