24/04/2024
Caitlin Foord is just one Matildas star facing intense football and travel schedules, but they're attracting record crowds for club and country.

A record crowd of 36,109 fans attended Stadium Australia on Saturday. On Tuesday, Newcastle is expected to show up in force as they always do and for some players, Wembley stadium and 40,000 Londoners await.

Arsenal’s Australian forward Caitlin Foord was disappointed with the result against the U.S.A but thrilled at the turnout and atmosphere from the home fans.

For the first time this year, the interstate families were able to add to the crowd.

“For those girls to be able to see their family for the first time in about two years and just knowing that they’re there and on top of that, having all the fans, the record crowd and playing at Stadium Australia, which we’d never done before, it was just an incredible experience,” Foord told the media on Sunday.

“Even the show, coming out with The Wiggles and the fireworks, it just felt like an exciting event and game.

“It’s just disappointing not to have the result.”

The two games against The U.S.A come at a hectic time for Australia’s English-based stars. Foord’s Arsenal has played six club games in November, including two European ties including an away trip to Denmark.

She has then had to fly around the world to represent Australia before jetting back to play Sam Kerr’s Chelsea in the F.A Cup final on Sunday (AEST).

For contrast, the majority of the U.S.A team ended their domestic season earlier this month. They will not restart club football until the new year.

“If I’m to be honest, it’s extremely tough,” said Foord of the new challenge facing the team.

“I think this time around feels a little bit tougher than the last one and I think that’s purely because at our clubs we’ve been playing so many games.

“We play three games a week which obviously in between the last camp to now is a lot of games and then the travel on top.

“It’s difficult and that’s something we’re going to have to get used to and find the best strategy to be able to prepare ourselves the best we can for games when we come back.”

This is the new reality for many Matildas, but Foord says they are ready to do what it takes to play games in Australia.

“We want games at home so we need to find a way to feel as good as we can and I think that the challenge moving forward as well, getting everyone in the best possible form and position they can coming into camp.”

‘I’m starting to feel good again’

The match in Newcastle takes place with just three days in between. Australia lost key players in the buildup to the first game but Foord is optimistic the team will be recovered in time.

“Our medical team here do anything and everything they can to get everyone turned around quickly. With the short turnaround, it’s all about recovery.

“Obviously today, everybody is feeling a bit sore but we’ve still got another two days before we play again.

“I’m sure by that point everyone will be feeling good to go again.”

Foord has been battling fitness concerns so far this season. She missed the Matildas match against The Republic of Ireland due to injury.  The depth at Arsenal has meant she has had the luxury of recovery time.

“Every time I go out there in the green and gold jersey I give 100% and hope to do as best as I can.

“I guess for me I’m starting to feel good again.

“It’s just about being on the park and getting confidence, getting the minutes that you need, and keep on building.

“That is a place that I’m at but I still know I have more to give I can be better.

“I want to be that player in important moments in the important games. It’s building towards these moments and learning from these games to be the best we can.”

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Foord was denied a goal against the U.S.A only by spectacular goalkeeping by Casey Murphy. The tall American was impassable on Saturday and The Matildas may have to adjust their shooting to beat her.

“Credit to her she had an amazing game and made some world-class saves.

“These are clinical moments as well for them that she made those saves.

“I guess the learning for us is she’s a very tall keeper.

“She has a pretty good save in the air, maybe if we can keep our shots lower and test her that way… I guess we didn’t have too many shots like that.”

Foord was dangerous and creative against the U.S.A. Her menacing forward play saw her voted Australia’s player of the game by the fans.

She is hitting form at the right time with the F.A Cup final in the immediate future.

Australia teammates Lydia Williams and Steph Catley will line up alongside her for Arsenal. Sam Kerr will be trying to stop them for Chelsea.

“It’s huge, it’s exciting, I can’t wait,” she says of the biggest club game of her season so far.

“Obviously it’s at Wembley – I’ve never played at Wembley before so it’s a stadium that everyone talks about and you want to be in those games playing there.

“I’m looking forward to the experience and hopefully winning my first trophy with Arsenal.”

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