Newcastle’s midfield had done everything right. Katrina Gorry was covered by two players, and the entire defence was in formation.
But the Brisbane Roar playmaker saw the smallest of gaps and had the technique to curl the ball with a single touch into the path of the unsighted Anna Margraf to run onto and score.
Gorry had the vision to spot a player that nobody else on the field or in the stands did. She had the confidence to attempt the impossible pass, and the talent to pull it off.
This is what Katrina Gorry can bring to the Matildas’ midfield against New Zealand this week. That and the occasional long-range rocket.
In his first press conference since Australia departed the Asian Cup, coach Tony Gustavsson identified that the Matildas played in two separate blocks. The defence and attack struggled to link with much of the attacking done down the flanks.
Ironically in the loss against South Korea, Australia managed to get the most out of its midfield combinations early but could not find the net. Those quick interchanges faded as the game wore on and Korean confidence rose.
Gorry’s return to the national team could bring a whole new dimension to Tony Gustavsson’s midfield. She was originally included in the Asian Cup squad but the risk of taking a one-year-old child to India during COVID was understandably, too risky.
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Gorry has spent the A-League Women’s season knitting the Brisbane midfield together, consistently influencing games and providing that much-needed link between the lines.
“That’s kind of what I did when I was in the national team before I went on maternity leave,” Gorry told the media in Townsville.
“I hope to bring that to the Matildas and do whatever I can to help the team keep progressing to that 2023 World Cup.
“To be back on the field with the players I grew up with, I’m super excited.
“An important part of my game is combination play. To be combining with the players on the field is very important for me.”
It is those combinations that make Gorry special. She is capable of scoring spectacular goals, but those one-two’s and changes of direction make her unpredictable and creative.
She is comfortable taking possession anywhere on the field. It often looks as though she knows the next pass before getting the ball.
“I’ve fallen back in love with it”
Gorry spent nearly a full year out of the game to become a mother. Her return was one of the good news stories of the season in which she often dominated.
“It’s been awesome,” she said of her return to the game.
“I’ve fallen back in love with it, just playing with pure enjoyment of the game again which is the best for me.
“I think it shows in my performances recently how much happier I am on the field and hopefully I can bring that into camp.”
Gorry joins Melbourne Victory’s grand final winner Alex Chidiac as the pair return to the Matildas’ midfield after long absences. Alongside Mary Fowler and Emily van Egmond, the Australian midfield is suddenly stacked with playmakers.
The former AFC player of the year has been building towards this for some time. Gorry has been working with the coaching staff since Brisbane’s season ended.
“I’ve been working quite closely with Tony and Mel (Andreatta),” she says of her preparation for the matches.
“I think for me it’s just about enjoying camp, being back in the environment, being back around the girls and just testing myself with some of the best players in the country and in the world at the moment.”
Australia plays New Zealand in Townsville on Friday night at 8pm AEST.
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