Catley to lead Australian women's soccer squad at the Paris Olympics in Sam Kerr's absence

SYDNEY (AP) — Steph Catley will lead Australia's women's soccer squad at the Paris Olympics in the injury-enforced absence of regular captain Sam Kerr.

The Australian Olympic Committee confirmed the 18-player squad on Tuesday. Kerr was ruled out after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee while training with the Chelsea Women’s Super League team in January.

Catley, vice-captains Emily Van Egmond and Ellie Carpenter, Mackenzie Arnold, Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne and Tameka Yallop will all become three-time Olympians in Paris.

Kyra Cooney-Cross, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Michelle Heyman, Teagan Micah, Hayley Raso all return for their second Olympics, while Clare Hunt, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine and Clare Wheeler have been selected for their first Olympics.

“This has been an incredibly challenging squad to select with so many quality players competing fiercely for limited spots,” Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson said. “It has been a methodical process over the past couple of years to reach this point, and each of the players selected brings unique and beneficial qualities to our team that will be vital for our Paris 2024 campaign.”

Australia beat China 2-0 on Monday night in its final home friendly before the Paris Games.

Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who says she will retire at the Olympics, was honored in the match played before 77,000 fans at Sydney's Olympic stadium.

Williams, Australian soccer’s longest-serving player, was subbed off at halftime to a standing ovation. She is one of the four traveling reserves going to Paris with the Matildas on standby in case of injuries.

A guard of honor assembled for the 36-year-old Williams before the Sydney match as Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley presented Williams, a Noongar Indigenous woman, with a traditional animal skin cloak.

Australia is playing in Group B against the United States, Germany and Zambia. Australia has never won an Olympic medal, coming close at the Tokyo Games in 2021 after losing 4-3 in the bronze medal match against the United States, which was then ranked world No. 1.

The Australians co-hosted the Women's World Cup with New Zealand last year and reached the semifinals.


Australia squad: Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley (captain), Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Michelle Heyman, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Teagan Micah, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Kaitlyn Torpey, Emily van Egmond, Cortnee Vine, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop


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