Saturday's homecoming lived up to all expectations, with high quality football played against one of our great rivals, behind an electric atmosphere. And the best bit? We do it all over again tomorrow night
Here is everything you need to know about Tuesday's clash with Brazil.
About Saturday night...
It had been nineteen months since the Commonwealth Bank Matildas last played in front of their adoring home fans, Commbank Stadium had been given the green light for fans to return, with the Australians in gold and Brazilians in canary yellow packing out the stands in Parramatta. Off the pitch, a new broadcasting partner in Channel 10, eager to showcase the team to a prime-time audience. Was the match ever going to feel like a friendly?
The excitement for 100-cap Alanna Kennedy was palpable, leading the side out in her home city. Some watching on were brought the tears, such was the emotion of hearing the fans again, singing the national anthem along with the players after two years being locked behind their television screens.
A tight first half was broken late, an Australian free-kick routine saw Clare Polkinghorne tap home after a delightful headed assist by Sam Kerr. Many may have assumed that Polkinghorne is an unlikely first goalscorer, however, the Queenslander has now scored twelve for her country, an incredible tally for a central defender.
The heavens opened in the second half, with humid and wet conditions opening up play for both sides. While Brazil capitalised from a freak mistake, Australia capitalised from a freak player off the substitutes bench, Emily Van Egmond. The midfielder first looped a cross over numerous Brazilian defenders to find a free Mary Fowler, before linking up late in the game with Steph Catley to secure the 3-1 victory.
As the final whistle blew, players from both sides rushed straight to the supporters for a socially distanced embrace. All those feelings after months of waiting for a return home started to show, with many in the crowd fighting back tears, especially the family members of the players, who had been separated throughout the pandemic as their loved ones ventured abroad.
Australia have now won their last six women’s internationals against Brazil on the bounce, outscoring them 20-8 in that time. The Commonwealth bank Matildas are also undefeated in their last eleven women’s internationals at home, with coach Tony Gustavsson now holding an envious 100% win record at home.
Injury to Olympic hero Teagan Micah has seen coach Gustavsson look externally for her replacement, with Sydney FC's Jada Whyman stepping up for her first international camp, having received the news on her 22nd birthday, no less. Whyman is currently uncapped at international level, however, the girl from Wagga Wagga has gathered a large reputation in Parramatta, after five years with the Western Sydney Wanderers, before switching to cross-town outfit Sydney FC.
Emily van Egmond brushed off any hint of rustiness, coming off the bench to score a goal and setting up Fowler with a delightful floating cross. The Novocastrian seemed to be deployed further forward by Tony Gustavsson, subsequently repaying the faith of her coach. Incredibly, Van Egmond became the first Matildas player to log both a goal, and an assist in under an hour of play, since Caitlin Foord did so against the United States of America almost three years ago.
Mary Fowler meanwhile, has now scored five goals for the Commonwealth Bank Matildas in 2021, the second most of any player, behind Sam Kerr. The difficulty of her goals is what stands out however, with Fowler's statistics showing that over 2021, the forward was expected to score only one time, based off the challenging areas in which she shoots from, yet outperformed that stat by four, including three in her last two matches.
Yes Simon Hill, there definitely is something about Mary Fowler.
The Brazilians players will be relishing that second opportunity to enact revenge after a tough defeat to one of their bitter rivals. The South Americans provided plenty of entertainment both on and off the pitch, as the south-east corner of CommBank Stadium became engulfed with chants in Portuguese. Australian supporters will need to return at large on Tuesday night to help out-number the Brazilian supporters who will undoubtedly return.
One reason for their return, will undoubtedly be to see the 'queen of football' Marta, who made a cameo appearance in the first match, with the 35-year-old not risked due to a long flight and tight schedule. Marta and star striker Debinha will likely have a larger impact in the next match, with Australia's backline needing to be on guard for the skill that both possess.
Catch all the action live and free on 10 Bold and simulcast on 10 Play as Australia hosts Brazil. Kick-off is at 8pm AEDT.
Commonwealth Bank Matildas v Brazil
Date: Tuesday, 26 October
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Time: Kick-off 8:00pm AEDT
Broadcast: Live and free on 10 Bold and simulcast on 10 Play
Tickets: Get your seat for the match HERE