Two locals selected for the Matildas’ Olympic squad

Ellie Carpenter and Kyah Simon

FOOTBALL –

Two athletes from the Central Coast have been named in the 18-strong women’s football squad, the Matildas, as the Australian Olympic Team prepares to head to Tokyo this month.

Captained by Sam Kerr, the Matildas squad boasts 12 returning Rio Olympians for their second Games and six players to make their Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Wamberal’s Ellie Carpenter was given the call up following her successful run in the UEFA Champions League and Coupe de France with French heavyweights Olympique Lyonnais this season.

It will be the second Olympic run for the 21-year-old defender after her debut in Rio in 2016 saw her become the youngest ever female footballer to compete at the Olympics, and the youngest Australian competitor in Brazil.

She made her first appearance for the Matildas at age 15 in a 9-0 win over Vietnam in an Olympic Qualifying match.

Tacoma’s Kyah Simon was also named in this year’s squad with the 30-year-old forward also set to make her second Olympic appearance.

In Rio 2016, Simon played in all three of the Matildas’ group games, scoring one goal in Australia’s 6-1 game against Zimbabwe.

She made her debut for the Australian women’s senior team aged 16 in August 2007, with her first goal for the Matildas coming one year later against Brazil.

Simon then appeared at the 2011 World Cup, where she became the first Indigenous Australian to ever score a goal in a World Cup tournament following her brace in Australia’s 2-1 win over Norway.

Matildas’ Coach, Tony Gustavsson, said the strength of this year’s squad made the selection very difficult.

“The players that have been selected, it’s a team with a lot of passion and pride to now represent the country,” Gustavsson said.

“It’s a spirit within the team that I love.

“It’s a team and a roster that is very attacking balanced, but also with a lot of versatility.

“There’s a lot of players in this roster that can play multiple positions, which is exactly what you need in an Olympic tournament.

“On the pitch you are definitely going to see a brave team that’s going to take a step forward … it’s going to be an attacking mindset on the field.

“Off the field, this team is always going to represent in the best way possible.

“It’s an authentic team that is really true to who they are and very, very proud to represent their country.”

The Matildas qualified for the Olympics in March 2020, with Emily van Egmond and Sam Kerr leading the Australian charge during the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers.

The team punched their ticket to Tokyo away from home with victory in Quang Ninh, Vietnam.

The Matildas are set to take on USA, Sweden and New Zealand in their group round, with their first game against the Kiwis on July 21 at Tokyo Stadium, kick-off 9:30pm AEST.

Maisy Rae

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