Sam Kerr to be rotated in Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers in Perth

Noah Strang
By:
Noah Strang
26/10/2023
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Sam Kerr will not play 90 minutes for Australia in their Olympic qualifying matches.

Chelsea striker and Australia captain Sam Kerr will be rotated in the upcoming Olympic qualifying matches, says Matildas’ boss Tony Gustavsson.  

News Insights

  • Australia to play Iran, the Philippines, and Chinese Taipei in Olympic qualifiers this week.
  • Sam Kerr will play a limited role in these matches, says Tony Gustavsson.
  • Kerr will be rotated on advice from the Matilda’s medical team.
  • The Matildas should qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, even without Kerr.

Matildas’ captain Sam Kerr will have a limited role in her side’s upcoming Olympic qualifying campaign, according to Australia national team manager Tony Gustavsson. The 50-year-old Swede says Kerr will be rotated so as not to “overload her with minutes.” 
 
Kerr is still recovering from a long-term injury she suffered prior to the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.  

Kerr will not go 90 minutes

Tony Gustavsson spoke at length with the media on Wednesday ahead of Australia’s 2024 Olympic qualifying campaign. Many of the questions directed to the Matildas’ boss were about Sam Kerr and her injury status.  
 
Kerr, who is one of the best players in the world, is a Perth native, so there is extra attention being paid to these matches as they will be a homecoming of sorts for Australia’s captain. Unfortunately for those looking forward to that homecoming, it now appears Kerr may not have a very big role to play in Australia’s upcoming fixtures. 
 
I think all of us would love to play Sam Kerr in 90 minutes every game,” said Gustavsson “[But] considering she’s coming back from injury very recently, she hasn’t played 90 minutes in a very, very, very long time, not for club either with that calf issue … We need to be extremely mindful.” 
 
Gustavsson clarified further that Kerr will not play every minute of every match by saying, “I think we can expect to see some rotation in this tournament so we don’t overload her with minutes” 

Other players also to be protected

Sam Kerr is not the only player who Gustavsson and the Matilda’s medical team will be keeping a close eye on during this international break. 10 players reportedly showed up to the Australia training camp with strong symptoms of jet lag. 
 
Today’s session was a very different training session,” Gustavsson said, referring to his player’s physical status. “We’re going to rotate a lot in the roster because of the physicality and the wellbeing and the protection of the players,” he added.  
 
Football Australia announced on Wednesday all three of the Matildas’ upcoming matches have been sold out. This brings their sellout streak to 11-consecutive matches. With so many players expected to be rotated, these sellout crowds should look forward to seeing some new names, like Brighton’s Charlize Rule who is currently uncapped.  

Olympic qualification on the line for the Matildas 

Thankfully for Gustavsson, he can afford to rest and rotate his players in Australia’s next fixtures. The Matildas will be playing Iran at HBF Park in Perth on Thursday, before going to Optus Stadium to play the Philippines, and finally heading back to HBF Park to play Chinese Taipei. 
 
On paper, the only one of these teams who could cause Australia any problems are the Philippines. However, most soccer betting sites don’t even give them much of a chance. 
 
Once Australia takes care of Iran, the Philippines, and Chinese Taipei, the Matildas will advance to the next and final stage of Olympic qualifying. 

Barring a massive upset in this final round, the Matildas should be going to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Like at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Australia are one of the betting sites favourites to win the tournament.