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Mackenzie Arnold aiming to leave lasting World Cup legacy in Australia

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Aug 2023

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Mackenzie Arnold insists there is “much more to come” from the legacy Australia can leave as they aim for World Cup semi-final success against England.

The goalkeeper provided the heroics in the co-hosts’ quarter-final penalty shootout against France with her spot-kick saves to help them reach the last four.

Their performances throughout the tournament have sparked plenty of support from the Australian public, but Arnold knows there is still work to be done.

She told a press conference: “I think the legacy that we wanted to leave throughout this World Cup, to inspire the generation coming through, I think we’ve done more than that. I think we’ve done more than what we thought we would accomplish.

“Obviously we’re not done yet, but again, to see the reaction that we’ve received from the whole country has been absolutely unreal, and I think this is only the beginning, and I think there’s much more to come.”

Australia went the full distance with extra time and penalties during Saturday’s quarter-final, which ended goalless after regulation time.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson made three substitutions during the match, but he is not concerned with any fitness worries for Wednesday’s semi-final.

“What we’ve done is we’ve focused on recovery, so each player will follow an individual plan between the games,” he said.

“Some have done more football than others. It’s all about being as fresh as possible for the game tomorrow.”

One fitness worry for Australia has been that of star striker Sam Kerr, who has had her game time throughout the tournament limited due to injury.

The Chelsea forward was substituted on in the 55th minute of the France game and Gustavsson confirmed that she is involved in plans for the England clash.

He added: “When it comes specifically to Sam (Kerr), she pushed through more minutes than we hoped for, to be honest.

“One of the reasons that we kept her on the bench was that we were uncertain how many minutes she had coming back from that calf injury, but also the limited training minutes she had.

“The way she pushed through was fantastic and impressive, both from a mental and physical aspect. She recovered well, she trained today so she’s available.

“There will be a meeting tomorrow to see, again, the best starting 11 and the best finishing 11, and whether we plan for 90 minutes or plan for extra time and those type of decisions.

“There will be some tough decisions tonight again but Sam is available for selection.”

Australia’s clash with England will see plenty of teammates pitted against each other, with several members of the Matildas squad representing Women’s Super League clubs.

Arnold plies her trade with West Ham, who finished eighth in the WSL, and praised the progression of the league.

“All of us that play over in that league can say it’s a different world coming from the W-League,” she said.

“The amount of professionalisation and the talent that they have over there, the time they put into their clubs and players, it really shows the progress both of them individually and the game as a whole.

“After seeing the Euros and them winning that and seeing how much it really took off and how much money was invested over there, it just really goes to show the progression they’ve had.”

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