Sam Kerr was a constant threat in the semi-final defeat by Sweden
She had a goal disallowed and two headed chances
"We’d be disappointed to go home without a medal"
It was only ten minutes since the final whistle had blown on Australia’s narrow 1-0 loss to Sweden in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament semi-finals when Sam Kerr explained that it was all still too “fresh” for her to look ahead to the next game – but then the 27-year-old changed her mind: “We know that we’re a special team and we know that we can do something special. Now is the time.
"We won’t be happy coming home empty handed. Unless we go home with something around our neck, it’s going to be a disappointment for us. We have a bronze medal we can still win.”
The chance to finish on the podium will arrive on Thursday in the bronze medal match against USA, who lost 1-0 to Canada in the other semi-final. Had a few details turned out differently, however, Australia could still be in the running for gold.
“It hurts a little more because it was right there for the taking and we missed out,” said the striker. “Both times we played them [Australia lost 4-2 in the group stage], I honestly think we controlled a lot of the game. Other than that one moment I think it was even.
"At the end of the day, the most important thing is putting the ball in the net. Sweden are a really good team, they deserve to be there. Someone had to win tonight and either team would have deserved it.”
KASHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 02: Alex Morgan #13 of Team United States reacts after a challenge by Quinn #5 of Team Canada during the Women's Semi-Final match between USA and Canada on day ten of the Tokyo Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on August 02, 2021 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
KASHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 02: Alyssa Naeher #1 of Team United States looks dejected after suffering an injury, forcing her to be substituted off during the Women's Semi-Final match between USA and Canada on day ten of the Tokyo Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on August 02, 2021 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Goalscoring glory With five goals to her name, Kerr is the highest scoring striker still involved at the tournament, and she was once again the focal point of Australia’s attacks. On two separate occasions she went close with headers from difficult positions, and even had a goal disallowed. “Heading’s my forte, no questions asked,” said the Chelsea forward. “I try my best every time I get into that box and I think the offside goal was probably my best chance. I’d like to have more opportunities and as a striker you’re disappointed when you don’t score.” Nevertheless, Kerr does not believe her side need to make any changes to their attacking strategy.
“We have to play with what they give us and I thought they gave us the width today. We tried to take it but it didn’t work tonight,” she explained, before turning her attention to Thursday’s game: “It’s worked in the rest of the tournament. I’m sure it’s one of our strengths and we’ll continue to do it.”
USA challenge Kerr also dismissed any suggestions that a USA side accustomed to winning would not be as motivated in what is ‘only’ a bronze medal match: “USA are a different kettle of fish when a medal’s at stake. They have always shown up. I don’t think there’s any advantage for us going into that because they’re a really good team with amazing players.”
Still, Kerr departed with a warning for Australia’s upcoming opponent: “We get a buzz from there being a medal at stake. I will be ready for USA. We’ll play the underdog very well, as we always do.”