Luik completes childhood quadfecta by scoring first national team goal

Commonwealth Bank Matildas' veteran Aivi Luik recently came out of retirement to help mentor younger players during Australia's 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup campaign, but contributed even more than expected.

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"It felt great to be a part of the team again," Luik said of running onto the pitch in the green and gold for the first time since her retirement after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year.

"When I was subbed on after half time, Alanna [Kennedy] actually turned to me with a smile and said "welcome back" along with a few of the other players. Right from the get-go they made me feel so welcome."

To the surprise and delight of herself and her teammates, Aivi scored her very first national team goal. One of many highlights throughout the match.

"There was so much to be happy about that day; we had a huge win with a clean sheet, Sam clinched the all-time goalscorer record for Australia, Holly [McNamara] made her debut, it was Alanna's birthday and I got my first goal for the Matildas, so there was a lot to celebrate," she shared.

Luik's excitement was written all over her face during her celebration. She explained that even though it may not have been a 'do-or-die' goal, it completed her childhood quadfecta.

"I know it wasn't a last-minute goal to win us an important game or anything like that, but I had that reaction because when I was little, I wanted to make the Matildas, play in the World Cup, play in the Olympics and score a goal for the Matildas," Luik explained.

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"After I retired I was pretty content having achieved three out of the four goals, but of course that competitive nature in me still caused me to feel a little bit of disappointment for not having gotten the fourth.

"With all that in mind, seeing the ball go into the back of the net gave me so much joy and happiness, which was only multiplied by seeing the big smiles on the faces of the girls surrounding me.

"It's always the greatest joy seeing a teammate score their first goal for the national team, and I've seen several but to be on the other side of it, I can now say is pretty cool too."

When head coach Tony Gustavsson spoke about bringing Luik back into the national team setup, he mentioned one of the reasons for his decision was so he could utilise Luik as a mentor for younger players.

Fresh off her debut, youngster Holly McNamara was first to celebrate with Luik, evidence that the stalwart is already having an impact on the new players.

"Honestly, I think Holly was just the closest player to me, but she's such a sweet girl as are the other new players who have joined the team," Luik said.

"They're all really hardworking and focused which shows they respect the environment they're in and the goal we are here to achieve.

"The team has responded well to that, so for me, my job as an older player has been to encourage that behavior and motivate them to continue in that way."

With sights firmly set on the Commonwealth Bank Matildas next game against the Philippines tonight, Luik was asked if she's hungry to add some more goals to her tally.

"I'm really excited to play the Philippines. The challenge of facing what we believe is going to be a stronger opponent in a more physical game is something that we always look forward to," she said.

"No doubt we are hungry for more goals but three points is our number one priority."

Commonwealth Bank Matildas Matches | AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ | Group Stage

Philippines v Commonwealth Bank Matildas
Date: Monday, 24 January 2022
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
Kick-off:  3.30pm (local), 9pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and Exclusive on Network 10 and 10 Play

Commonwealth Bank Matildas v Thailand
Date: Thursday, 27 January 2022 / Friday, 28 January 2022
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local), 01:00am (AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and Exclusive on Network 10 and 10 Play

For more information on the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, please visit here.

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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.