Alanna Kennedy’s World Cup is over as Matildas finally reveals the reason for her absence against England… and the Aussie star is set to miss the third-place play-off against Sweden
The Matildas will be without injured defender Alanna Kennedy in their Women’s World Cup third-place play-off against Sweden.
Kennedy missed the semi-final defeat by England due to illness. Football Australia has since confirmed she was suffering from delayed concussion symptoms stemming from Australia’s dramatic quarter-final win over France.
The centre-back suffered a number of blows in the game, most notably hitting her head with French striker Eugenie Le Sommer. She was also the only player not to take a penalty in Australia’s penalty shoot-out victory.
Kennedy’s absence is a major blow to Australia’s hopes of winning Saturday’s play-offs at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The 28-year-old was sorely lacking in air presence, leadership, aggressiveness and organization in Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat by England as substitute Clare Polkinghorne was unable to make the same impact.
Alanna Kennedy will miss Saturday’s third-place game against Sweden
The Matildas confirmed the defender was suffering from delayed concussion symptoms
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Kennedy’s presence in defense and set pieces will also be absent against Sweden, whose centre-back Amanda Ilestedt has proved a threat at both ends of the park throughout the tournament.
Polkinghorne, Aivi Luik, Steph Catley and Courtney Nevin are options to replace Kennedy in central defence.
The Matildas looked exhausted against England after playing 120 minutes plus penalties against France and face a close three-day turnaround before the play-off.
The indefatigable midfielder Katrina Gorry trained away from her team-mates in Friday’s final training session, her left leg wrapped in a pressure bandage.
Coach Tony Gustavsson may need to call on Alex Chidiac, Clare Wheeler or Tameka Yallop to create a spark in midfield against the Swedes.
Gustavsson has shown little confidence in his bench throughout the tournament, but given the kilometers his starters have covered in the first six games, he may not be left with any other choice.
Already at a World Cup, whether men’s or women’s, Australia are further ahead than ever by progressing to the semi-finals and are determined to go home with the bronze medal.
After failing to lose to the USA in the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal fight, the Matildas now have an idea of how to recover from the big screen and get back on track.
Katrina Gorry is in doubt about playing in the third-place play-off after practicing alone on Friday
“It’s extremely important,” attacker Caitlin Foord said.
“The first thing that came to mind was the Olympics when we failed and then fought for the bronze medal.”
“Nothing hurt more than losing that game.”
“We have that in the back of our minds ahead of this game and we deserve to go home with something from this tournament.”