Australia is having a disappointing World Cup, and looks nothing like the dark horse contender everyone thought it was coming into the tournament. The Matildas followed up their opening defeat to Italy with a wacky 3-2 win over Brazil on Thursday, taking advantage of some fortunate bounces and a poorly written offside rule.
But superstar Sam Kerr doesn’t care how Australia got the win or what questions remain about its struggles in all areas of the pitch. She just has a message for the haters: “WE’RE BACK, SO SUCK ON THAT ONE.”
Kerr, herself, is struggling to find her best form. She has one goal in her first two games, but it came from the rebound of her missed penalty against Italy. She occupied defenders and influenced all of Australia’s goals against Brazil, but has yet to hit the back of the net with any of her own shots.
It doesn’t matter, because Australia won. Suck on that one.
The expected goals numbers don’t suggest Australia played meaningfully better against Brazil than it did against Italy. The Aussies struggled to create chances again, scoring their one great opportunity and getting very lucky on their other two goals.
xG map for Australia – Brazil
the Matildas didn’t play that badly to go down 2-0 and didn’t play that well to come back and win 3-2
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 13, 2019
Three points is three points, though. Suck on that one.
The Australian defense has been tragically thin for a while now. Rather than planning for contingencies, the Matildas have rotated the same three veteran defenders in most of their games over the last couple of years. This came back to bite them hard when Laura Alleway picked up an injury before the tournament. It’s also not helping that Clare Polkinghorne played poorly in losses to the United States and the Netherlands ahead of the tournament, then had an error leading directly to a goal against Italy, before picking up an injury in training this week.
Rather than take a chance on a young defender, Australia opted to bring just two central defenders to the World Cup. Without Polkinghorne, the Aussies were forced to play world class fullback Steph Catley in the middle, world class defensive midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight at fullback, and play a rather thin-looking midfield. Whether it uses this lineup or one with Polkinghorne in the future, Australia is going to have its MacGyver defense exposed by better teams.
Beat Brazil, though. Suck on that one.
Australia look poorly coached. This is especially relevant given the January sacking of manager Alen Stajčić, who had led the team since 2014. He was fired after surveys of players and staff revealed that he’d fostered a toxic environment, but to this date, no specifics have been given about why he was terminated. Australian FA CEO David Gallop said that “it’s difficult to go into specifics because of the confidentiality arrangement around the surveys.” None of Stajčić, Gallop, or any players have spoken publicly about specific reasons he was let go.
Stajčić’s replacement is his former assistant, Ante Milicic, who has never been a head coach at senior professional level. Since he’s taken over, Australia seems to have forgotten how to get the ball to its two world class forwards, Kerr and Caitlin Foord. The Matildas have just kind of resorted to hoofing it.
— Claire Watkins (@ScoutRipley) June 13, 2019
I truly do not understand what the fuck their game plan is. They have two of the most dynamic forwards in the world—one of whom is literally the best player on earth—and they’re trying to use them as target strikers
— Katelyn Best (@BestKabest) June 13, 2019
Having no idea how to work the ball through the midfield to your two superstars who like the ball played into their feet is a huge problem.
But the gameplan produced three goals, didn’t it? Suck. On. That. One.
It’s very important to have an attitude like Kerr’s, and a catchphrase like “suck on that one” to resort to, when you are in a situation like Australia’s — it has designs on winning a World Cup, but isn’t actually good enough at the moment. There is enough talent on the Australian roster to win a World Cup, and the Matildas have shown themselves capable of beating every team in the world at their best, so it’s possible that they could turn their tournament around. Maybe beating Brazil will be the impetus for that change.
What do you do when you’re not good enough to accomplish your goals, but you know you have the ability to accomplish them in the near future? Pretend! You might know this as “positive mental attitude,” “fake it ‘til you make it,” or “The Secret.”
There’s no better tool in the pro athlete’s mental toolbox than convincing themselves that they’re definitely already the shit. Critics are just haters. Everyone wants to see you fail because they’re jealous. You already know you’re the best, and you’re going to make everyone else admit it soon.
This isn’t a delusion. It’s a necessary way of thinking for a team and a star player if they’re going to overcome the problem of other teams having deeper squads and better gameplans.
Pay no attention to the misfiring superstar, the broken defense, or the struggling coach. Australia is back, baby! SUCK ON THAT ONE.