Ahead of the kick-off of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, our Australian duo Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord believe that the tournament being held on their home soil has the potential to be the biggest ever.
The women’s game has boomed since the USA last lifted the trophy in France four years ago, with record-breaking attendances becoming the norm at club and international level.
All that means the eyes of the world will be fixed on Australia and New Zealand over the next month as for the first time, 32 teams do battle to get their hands on the silverware, and our Aussie duo can’t wait for their chance to stake a claim when they face the Republic of Ireland in their opening match on Thursday.
“Women’s football has changed in every aspect when you think about it,” Steph said. “It’s arrived at a completely different level from the last World Cup. There is a lot more interest, more pressure and more quality.
“I think the support is going to be through the roof and I think we will break records from crowds in the stadiums to the number of people watching around the world.”
“The game has grown so much in the last four years,” Caitlin added. “I think the competition is getting tighter and tighter and you’re going to see a lot of upsets and results you might not have seen in the last tournament.
“Nations that probably wouldn’t have had a look in before have come so far and it just shows how much is being invested into the women’s game now. Every game is going to be exciting, and you won’t really be able to call it. It’s going to be a very close tournament.”
All that bodes well for the Matildas, who are hoping to progress further than the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, having suffered a disappointing round of 16 penalty shootout exit to Norway in the previous edition in 2019.
Both Steph and Caitlin were involved that day, but feel that home advantage could prove to be a huge motivating factor as they aim to firstly get out of a group where they’ll face two Arsenal teammates, having been drawn against Katie McCabe’s Republic of Ireland, Cloe Lacasse and Sabrina D'Angelo’s Canada, and Nigeria.
“As a nation, I think we feel like we’ve always fallen short of where we think we can go,” Caitlin revealed. “With the players we have, this feels like our time now.
“We want to make the most of the opportunity, particularly in front of our home crowd. It’s going to give us that extra boost and we want to just give it everything and leave no stone unturned along the way.”
“The standard is at a new level,” adds Steph. “There are so many top-class players playing across the top leagues and doing amazing things. I think every country you come up against you are going to have a top-class player in the team and that’s what’s so exciting about the challenge.
“You are going to have all the best players in one spot, and you really have to be the best to get to the end and hold the trophy, so it’s exciting!”
Ahead of the tournament, read our Arsenal-related preview including when you can see all of our players in action in Australia and New Zealand.
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