Australia enjoyed a breakthrough showing at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ by reaching the knockout stage for the first time with a series of spirited displays. Kate Gill experienced only limited game time for the Matildas at China 2007 though, as the tall striker tells FIFA.com, she is determined to not only make her mark this time around, but also prove that the Green and Gold deserve to be rubbing shoulders with the elite of the women’s game.
Much has changed for both Gill and the Australian side in those intervening years, with the squad having undergone a regeneration following the retirement of a number of senior players. However recent performances indicate that what the team lost in experience has been more than made up with raw talent and youthful zest.
Few if any of the older players have undergone a more significant renaissance than the prolific Gill. A league title with Malmo a few months back capped the conclusion of a successful third season in the highly competitive Swedish league. Gill then returned home and continued her impressive form for Perth Glory, with the 25-year-old averaging nearly a goal a game for club and country over the past 12 months.
The international stage has been equally productive, with Gill famously scoring the goal which saw Australia defeat Japan last May to become the first nation to qualify for Germany 2011. Top scoring at the prestigious Peace Queen Cup in October saw the Newcastle-raised forward become the Matildas second highest goalscorer behind the legendary Cheryl Salisbury. As if that wasn’t enough, a fortnight ago Gill was crowned AFC Women’s Player of the Year to join the ranks of Asian football royalty alongside the likes of Japan’s Homare Sawa and Korea DPR’s Ri Kum Suk.
FIFA.com: Kate, how does it feel to be named Asia’s best female footballer?
Kate Gill: It was a bit of a shock and I was very humbled to actually be in the top three let alone to win it, which I didn’t think that would happen.
What did you make of last week’s Germany 2011 draw with Australia grouped alongside Brazil, Norway, and Equatorial Guinea?
To be honest I was quite happy with it and it is fairly equitable to the group that we had in 2007. I think it’s a good draw though obviously if we can get out of the group we will be up against Group C nations, the likes of USA, North Korea and Sweden, who are all very competitive nations.
And what do you make of each of your three group opponents specifically?
We have had some fairly good encounters with Brazil. We lost against them of course in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup, but we beat them in the Peace Cup two years ago. Norway we played in 2007 and they are a disciplined team and keep their shape very well like most European teams. Equatorial Guinea no one really knows too much about them but African teams give you a run for your money so they will be very interesting.
Asia has two teams in the top ten with Australia just outside. Do you feel Asia can really make a mark at Germany 2011?
I think all the Asian nations will be very competitive which speaks wonders for the confederation. Japan, North Korea and us will be very tough to be beat.
For you personally what are you looking to get out of Germany 2011 having already experienced one FIFA Women's World Cup already?
It was great to be in China but next year I don’t just want to ‘be there’. For me it is all about to trying to make my mark and being a starting member of the team, so I can’t wait to get started to be honest.
How special is it to play in a FIFA Women's World Cup?
A World Cup and the Olympics that is what you live for in women’s football, so for me to do have a good World Cup would be a massive career highlight. It is a measure of how successful you can be as a player up against the best in the world.
Is the Australian team ready to build on their success of 2007?
We have been in Asia for a while now and have worked out to play that style of football. So heading to Germany recently [with the Matildas] was important so we could experience a European style of football and what we need to do to compete there. Having said that, we have a very adaptable team.
What are the best attributes of the Australian team?
We have a strong work ethic and determination. We play a system that suits our team and we complement each other well so if we can get things clicking even better then we will be pretty build formidable come the World Cup.
You recently played for the Matildas in Germany. How was that experience and did it make you hungry for next June?
The great thing about Europe is the football culture, and to experience that as I did in Sweden, and then in Germany is very enjoyable. Germany will be a great place to have the World Cup considering the success of the 2006 World Cup.