‘I felt like I was 100kg…my legs were dying’

Sam Kerr has made a habit of scoring important goals throughout her career but even she doesn’t know how she managed to score the one she did in the Westfield Matildas win over Japan on Friday (AEST).

Kerr wrapped up the 2-0 win against Australia’s AFC rivals when she got on the end of Kyah Simon’s through ball nine minutes from full-time in Chicago.

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Japanese keeper Chika Hirao came storming out of her box and looked favourite to get to the ball first and clear the danger, only for Kerr to sneak in, round the shot-stopper and another defender and roll the ball into the open goal.

“I don’t know how I beat them to that ball. I felt like I was 100kg, I felt so heavy, my legs were dying,” Kerr revealed after the match.

“I’ve just seen the gap open up…I actually don’t know what happened, the keeper went down and I just stayed on my feet.

“I normally miss those easy ones so I’m glad I could just pass it into the net.”

Kerr’s goal – after Alanna Kennedy’s opener early in the second-half – was enough to see the Westfield Matildas see-off a stubborn Japan at Toyota Park.

Sam Kerr; Alanna Kennedy

But it wasn’t enough for Australia to retain their Tournament of Nations title, with the USA’s 4-1 win over Brazil soon after seeing the host nation win the event on goal difference.

Regardless, Alen Stajcic’s side remains unbeaten in six matches at the tournament over the last 12 months and will head to the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in France next year as one of the favourites.

“That’s the new challenge for the Matildas as a team. The Asian Cup we went in favourites and we haven’t really experienced teams dropping to the halfway line when we get the ball,” said Kerr when asked about the pressure of being one of the picks to win the World Cup.

“It’s new challenge for us but it’s something we’re working on. That shows respect for us. We have to own that now and take advantage of it.

“We’re just a young team, we’re looking to keep our heads really level and not read into too much of that stuff.

“It’s nice to know that people are starting to respect what these girls are doing. We have so many young players coming up and some of them will be the best players in the world at one point.”

Asked how good this Westfield Matildas team could be, Kerr said: “We’re as good as we want to be. There’s no real boundaries on our team at the moment.

“We have a few priorities before France. One of them is to get a break, I think you could tell today we weren’t our normal selves, we were a bit tired.

“I think we’re right there with the best in the world but we’re not there yet. There’s still a bit to go but we have 12 months so we’re excited.”