Tameka Yallop and Lydia Williams on Monday resisted every attempt to get them to imbue this week’s Women’s World Cup semifinal with extra meaning because they are facing Australia’s fiercest sporting rival, England.
Still coming down from the high of Saturday’s dramatic victory over France, the two experienced internationals were quick to scotch the idea that facing England on Wednesday for a place in the final held special significance.
“I think it’s just another game,” said goalkeeper Williams.
“At the end of the day we know how to shift focus to representing and performing. It’s a significant game, obviously we are in the semifinals, but it’s just another opponent for us.”
While Williams watched on as fellow keeper MacKenzie Arnold starred in Saturday’s shootout thriller that triggered ‘Matildas Mania’ across Australia, midfielder Yallop came into the match as a substitute and buried the seventh penalty.
“The feeling in the group is really high at the moment and we definitely enjoyed every second of that match, in front of that crowd, and of course in front of everyone watching in Australia and beyond the borders as well,” she said.
“But we also want to repeat that feeling, so we are focusing on the next game.”
Yallop, who has played more than 100 times for her country, started in midfield when the Matildas beat European champion England 2-0 in London in April but said she did not think that match would mean much on Wednesday.
“That was a friendly game,” she said. “And yes, we can take something out of it. But at the same time, we’re into the knockout games in a World Cup so it’s a completely different game.”
What the sellout crowd at Stadium Australia can expect, Yallop said, was that the Matildas would fight for every second of however long the game lasted to put their country into a first global soccer final.
“That’s part of our jersey,” she said. “When you put it on, you really do sort of emulate that never-say-die attitude and that’s something that’s instilled with us from a young age.
“I think you’ve got to have that edge before you even put the Matildas jersey on. I think that’s definitely something that Australia gets behind, and it’s something that we take great pride in.”
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