The Matildas of Australia fired warning shots at fellow opponents including the Super Falcons of Nigeria, following a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in the Group B opener early Thursday morning.
Australia got off to a perfect start at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil with a Stephanie Catley penalty early in the second half (52nd minute) to give the co-hosts their first victory and maximum points of the campaign.
The last time Australia opened the FIFA Women’s World Cup encounter with a win was back in China ’07 when the Matildas recorded a comprehensive 4-1 win over Ghana on the 7th of September.
World Cup debutants, Ireland, initially proved to be difficult at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, leveraging on the absence of Australia’s talisman – Samantha Kerr who sat out the opener due to a calf-related injury, which resulted in a cagey first half.
Ireland’s primary objective seemed to be based on counterattacks, but the Girls in Green looked more lethargic than required, owing to their barren run of form in front of goal in four of their previous five games, resulting in zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes.
Shortly after the second half commenced, in the 50th minute, 28-year-old Hayley Raso made a move towards the goal area, only to be tackled to the turf by Ireland’s Marissa Sheva in the 18-yard box.
Full-back Stephanie Catley then stepped up to the occasion to bag her third international goal in 55 appearances for the Matildas.
Although Katrina Gorry missed a late chance to double the co-host’s lead and put Ireland out of reach, the hosts settled for a slim 1-0 win, to secure their 7th clean sheet in 9 games, and their 10th win in 11.
Up next for the Aussies is the Super Falcons of Nigeria on Thursday 27th of July 2023 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane Australia by 11 am Nigerian time.