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  • Writer's pictureChristian Marchetti

Sam Kerr says World Cup legacy has "already been made" for Australian football

Matildas star Sam Kerr says the Women's World Cup legacy has already been created for Australian football by the country being the co-host.

At Australia's pre-match press conference for tomorrow night's home opener against Ireland, Kerr was asked about legacy and whether football will feel the impact of co-hosting a World Cup.

“I think the legacy has already been made by bringing this World Cup here,” Kerr told the media.

“For years to come, this will be talked about, hopefully, decades to come.

“We really have brought the Women's World Cup to Australia.”

Kerr added that the squad is far more excited than nervous about the tournament and is proud to play her part in a home World Cup.

Gustavsson echoed similar sentiments, saying it feels a bit "unreal" to be approximately 24 hours from the opener.

With Australia playing in front of an expected 80,000-strong crowd, there are concerns such an occasion may overawe the Matildas.

But Gustavsson does not feel he needs to talk to certain players about the magnitude of the fixture, particularly with the experience already built within his squad.

He was also asked about legacy, and the Swede described such a term as looking back in 10-20 years. Gustavsson does hope his impact is felt beyond this tournament, as he and the squad aim to achieve something special on home soil.

It all starts against the Republic of Ireland. Gustavsson was not keen to give anything away regarding his starting eleven, stating that he wanted to keep such news close to his chest. But he does know his starting XI, and the coaching team have already decided on certain in-game changes and plans for how the fixture might play out. Gustavsson noted Ireland tends to concede goals late in halves.

On the squad's overall preparation for the tournament, the manager added that last week's friendly win over France, in front of 50,000-odd spectators, was massive for the team's mental preparation.

Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson is confident his squad can handle the magnitude of tomorrow night's Women's World Cup opener against Ireland. (Football Australia)

Kerr seemed to agree with her coach regarding mentality, saying that she enjoys the expectations being placed on her performance.

"We just play our game," Kerr said.

"It's about us tomorrow; it's not about anyone else."

The striker added the squad have to "live in the moment" and that it is "ok to feel nervous."

Despite having a very internal focus, Kerr says the Matildas have "a lot of respect" for Ireland.

She added the squad had gained a lot of confidence from individuals playing in multiple positions and returning from injury.

Gustavsson added to the discussion around the squad dynamic and build, saying his side now has a perfect mix of experience and youth.

"[We've] brought in a lot of youth and young players that can be here for another decade,” he said.

Gustavsson and Kerr were also asked about the squad receiving a visit from Australian sporting icon Cathy Freeman recently, which went viral on the team's social media accounts.

Kerr was "starstruck" by Freeman's visit, and she said Freeman made the squad feel like they had known her for years. Gustavsson, who had no direct involvement in organising the visit, said it was "natural" for his coaching staff to try and arrange a visit from a personal connection to the squad, such as Freeman.

The Matildas face Ireland in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup opener tomorrow at 8 pm AEST.

Click here to read about Sam Kerr's inclusion in the FIFA Museum's new "Calling the Shots: Faces of Women's Football" exhibition!

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