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Sam Kerr keeps eyes on Sarina Bolden heading to Matildas-Filipinas clash

Matildas striker Sam Kerr is eagerly anticipating a rematch with the Filipinas in the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Kerr, the leading goalscorer for the Matildas with 65 goals in 126 appearances, had scored against the Philippines in Australia’s 4-0 victory during their clash in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Having faced them over a year ago, the three-time NWSL Golden Boot winner is excited about the prospect of playing against the Filipinas once again, following their memorable 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.

“The Philippines, obviously, we have a lot of respect for all the teams. They had a good World Cup, of course, and secured their first win. We need to be at our best tomorrow, but I believe that if we play our best, we can be confident against any team in the world,” said the current Chelsea forward.

“They are a really solid defensive team. They set up well in a compact block, making it difficult to break them down. I think the most challenging aspect of football today is when teams adopt a low defensive block and have a fast striker on top, as they do when they counterattack,” she continued.

“I believe their strengths lie in their strong defensive play, their ability to get numbers back, and their counterattacking prowess. But look, they have a new coach coming in, so it’s somewhat hard to predict their approach with a new coach in charge. We’re primarily focused on our own game and taking into account what they did in their last match, but with a new coach, it’s uncertain where they might be headed.”

The Matildas kicked off their campaign with a routine 2-0 victory over Iran last Thursday. It was the perfect warm-up for today’s big game at the sold-out Optus Arena in Perth, with a capacity for 60,000 fans.

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The game promises to have an electric atmosphere as the Matildas will have their home crowd eager to see them win. On the other hand, the Filipinas will have the Filipino diaspora hopeful to see them upset another host nation, much like what they did to New Zealand in Wellington a few months ago.

“It was always the big one for us in this tournament. I think you can see how it’s shaping up with the crowd and everything. Everyone knows it’s the biggest game, but we’re focused on all of our matches,” said Kerr.

“I think in the last game, a few girls got a chance to play and showcase what they can do. There’s plenty of competition for spots, and everyone is fully prepared for tomorrow. We understand the significance of this match, but we’re not trying to overhype it. We’re just going to focus on our game and aim for a positive result.”

As one of the world’s most feared strikers, Kerr recognizes a genuine goal threat when she sees one.

It should come as no surprise that she mentioned the Filipinas’ record goalscorer, Sarina Bolden, as the one to watch out for from coach Mark Torcaso’s side.

After netting a brace against Chinese Taipei, Bolden now has 28 goals in 44 appearances for the Philippines and will undoubtedly be hungry for more, especially against a powerhouse side like Australia.

“I think it’s amazing,” said the World Cup semifinalist. “I believe you can see the growth of women’s football. I think all these countries are now investing much more, and you see players like Sarina playing in the A-League. She had an amazing goal in the World Cup. I think it’s fantastic.

“I believe the competition is improving. It’s remarkable that so many girls worldwide now have the opportunity to represent their countries, even as we saw with Iran the other day,” she added.

“You can never underestimate any team. You saw in the World Cup that there were numerous upsets. So, for us, that’s another important factor. We must treat every team as a top-notch opponent. As you mentioned, Sarina has been performing well in the A-League. She undoubtedly has some pace, so we need to keep an eye on her.”

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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