Optus Sport expert and Matildas legend Heather Garriock has revealed her expectations of the current crop’s Women’s World Cup hopes, saying anything other than a semi-finals appearance at least would make for failure.
The Matildas’ prospects for France 2019 were made clearer on Tuesday morning when Ante Milicic named his 23-woman squad for the tournament, along with two standby players.
Teenage sensation Mary Fowler was included in the squad, while the more familiar faces of Kyah Simon and Alex Chidiac were notable omissions. Simon is part of the standby list alongside Melbourne Victory’s Kyra Cooney-Cross.
But plenty of mainstays and experienced players made the squad, including Levante’s Aivi Luik, as well as the star-studded named a la Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Elise Kellond-Knight.
Garriock, who will appear on Optus Sport’s coverage of the tournament, told Tuesday’s Daily Football Show there is enough quality in the squad to reach the last four.
“From a realistic point of view, what we expect as pundits… we expect nothing less than the semi-finals and if we haven’t made that, then I think it’s a failed campaign, especially with the quality we have,” she said.
“People are calling it the golden generation – there are some golden players, most definitely.”
However, Garriock expressed concerns over defensive depth, as well as a lack of game time for at least two key names: Emily Gielnek and Lisa De Vanna.
“The thing that I’m fearful of is there’s been so much hype about the Matildas,” Garriock added.
“There is that preparation factor, and then you bring in a new coach who has his own philosophies and new playing style, then there’s the pressures of a World Cup and the players need to perform.
“Our depth defensively is our biggest concern because you’ve got someone like Steph Catley who’s had a soft tissue injury and hasn’t played for many weeks, and she’s a crucial part of our squad.
“Less than a semi-final I think is a failed campaign, but I think with our potent attack … I think it’s great.
“We’ve got plenty of depth up top. We may concede goals, but we’ll score goals as well.”
The Matildas kick off their campaign in France against Italy at the Stade Du Hainaut on Sunday, 9 June, before taking on Brazil and Jamaica.
Before that, they will face the Netherlands in a friendly at PSV Eindhoven’s Phillips Stadion on 2 June.