18/04/2024

Kyah Simon Celebrates a goal. Image @theafcdotcom twitter

As she returns to the field just in time for The Matildas', star forward Kyah Simon speaks to The Inner Sanctum about being part of some of Australian Football's biggest moments.

Over the last 10 years Kyah Simon has been involved in some of the biggest moments in Australian Football history.

She has scored winning goals in three major tournaments and assisted the spectacular equaliser against China in Australia’s last home match.

In good news for fans and teammates, she has returned to the field for PSV Eindhoven just in time for Australia’s Olympic campaign and has been included in the Matildas squad for the upcoming friendlies against Denmark and Sweden.

The Matilda’s consummate match-winner spoke to The Inner Sanctum to reflect on some of her biggest moments in the Green and Gold.

Asian Cup 2010 Final vs Korea DPR

Penalty shootouts have been the undoing of many football greats.

After a gruelling 120 minutes in terrible weather, Australia had the opportunity to win the Asian Cup for the first time.

The responsibility for this historical moment fell to an 18-year-old Kyah Simon who had the confidence to volunteer and the skill to deliver.

“I remember is being really terrible conditions,” she told The Inner Sanctum.

“The pitch was just mud”.

“Tommy (Sermanni, Australia manager) was going through the list of penalties it got to the fifth one and he was asking if anybody felt confident. I just had an urge to take one. The look on his face and (assistant coach) Robert Hooker was a little bit of shock.”

The fifth and decisive penalty was an emphatic shot into the top right side of the net. Looking back, Simon was playing the moment, not the occasion.

“I approached it with less pressure… I didn’t realize the enormity of it, I didn’t think of the possibilities of missing or not converting.”

That kick delivered Australia’s first silverware since joining the Asian Confederation four years earlier. It was a historical achievement but it took some time for it to sink it.

“To see all the girls running toward me, it was such an incredible moment,“ she said.

“It was all about what we had achieved as a team.”

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World Cup 2011. Final Group Game vs Norway

When Australia met Norway in the final group game of the World Cup, the two sides were level on points. The winner would go through to the knockout rounds.

A defensive mix-up had gifted Norway the lead early in the second half, but it took less than a minute for Australia to answer. Lisa De Vanna’s run and cut-back was coolly placed home by Simon while being squeezed between defenders.

“We knew we had to get a result, I don’t think I felt too much pressure on myself… going into that first game against Brazil is where the nerves would have been,” Simon said.

In an attacking game with both sides desperate to score, it was Australia who won the day. Simon’s well-timed header from a Kim Carroll cross put Australia into second place and the fans into delirium.

The ups and downs of the hectic encounter are something that Simon remembers fondly.

“When we got that first goal, we were super ecstatic. The second goal was such an exciting moment”

“Those games are such a rollercoaster of emotions. To be on the good side of that, there’s no better feeling.”

Performing on the world stage is something Simon says is impossible to replicate.

“It’s so exciting to score in a major tournament, it’s such a liberating feeling and something you can’t replicate in any other part of life.”

World Cup 2015, Round Of 16 vs Brazil

Four years later, Australia faced Brazil in the knockout stages.  In a tense, tactical encounter, Australia shocked the world by winning 1-0, the 80th-minute winner scored by Kyah Simon.

“It’s definitely up there,” she says when asked how it ranks in her career highlights.

“You get your debut, your first Olympics, Brazil was one better…it’s one of our teams proudest moments.”

Simon remembers a tough game where “everybody was putting their body on the line, fighting tooth and nail to get a result.”

Although she started as a substitute, Simon was determined to impact the game when given the chance and her instructions were simple.

“Go on and score a goal is what Paul Jones (goalkeeping coach) said. I still remember that when I went on.”

The winner was scored after the goalkeeper parried De Vanna’s shot and Simon reacted first, ran fastest, and finished well.

“When I scored, there was so much relief and excitement. We knew we hadn’t gotten across the line yet because they weren’t going to stop…we had to quickly shift focus.”

The Brazil game was the first win in the knockout rounds of a World Cup at senior level for the Matilda’s or the Socceroos. It still sits as a benchmark moment in Australian football.

Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020. Final Group Game vs China

China was 1-0 up, well organized, fast running, and defending with discipline.

Up until this point, Australia has been scoring freely in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

But without an equaliser they would finish second and face South Korea in the playoff for Tokyo.

In the 93rd minute, the ball fell to Simon, after a heart-stopping pause she squared the ball to Emily Van Egmond who rifled the ball into the net from 18 yards.

“It was a crazy moment, but I always had the belief we would score a goal,” she said.

“Time slowed down in that moment, I knew if I took a touch they would swarm me quicker, I could see Em in my peripheral.”

“If I held onto it for a few seconds I could toe-poke it in her direction,”

That pause, caused an otherwise unflappable Chinese defence to momentarily panic. She had time when there seemingly was none.  If there is one word to describe most of Simon’s highlights it’s composure.

It’s an attribute she has put hours of work into developing.

“Definitely a lot of work goes into goal scoring, it’s a work ethic thing.”

“It requires a lot of hard work, to back yourself and trust in what got you to that moment.”

“I don’t put too much pressure on myself, I just let it happen organically, moment by moment.”

Looking Forward

It has been a challenging year for Simon, after enjoying a good start to her PSV career she was halted by contracting COVID and suffering injuries.

“It’s been really hard being away from family, feeling quite isolated which is tough when you’re trying to do your craft.

“It makes it more mentally challenging than physically.”

Simon has returned to fitness and scored in her first appearance back for PSV Eindhoven. The sight of her in a Matildas’ shirt again will excite fans and she is eager to return to the national team setup.

“I’m really excited to get back in and around some of my closest friends.

“I miss the girls, it will be really nice to go on our Olympic journey together.”

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