The Matildas completed a final lap of honour to thank supporters after their historic World Cup campaign came to an end with a 2-0 loss to Sweden in the playoff for third place.
While Sweden celebrated with their bronze medals after the match, the Matildas paid respect to everyone who came out to Suncorp Stadium – and gave away some of their kit to grateful fans.
Seven commentator Adam Peacock was there for the heartwarming scenes, which he noted had many players in tears.
‘You wouldn’t know it right now that they won something because the Matildas are getting one hell of an ovation as they go on a little bit of a lap of honour – yeah, call it a lap of honour – around Brisbane Stadium,’ he announced on Channel 7.
‘Many of the players in tears, the fans in raptures. Katrina Gorry’s walking around without boots, I think Hayley Raso’s lost her boots to the crowd as well.’
Midfielder Katrina Gorry gave away her boots during a lap of honour after the match
Defender Aivi Luik was also pictured giving away her boots and socks to Matildas fans
Cameras captured the moment Gorry, who had an exceptional World Cup, gave her boots away to a lucky fan. The fan was overwhelmed with the gift.
Veteran Matilda Emily Gielnik commented on defender Aivi Luik also giving away her boots and socks to fans.
‘Aivi Luik is just one of the most beautiful human beings, so that does not surprise me,’ she said.
Coach Tony Gustavsson stood by his lack of squad rotation after the weary Matildas slumped to a 2-0 loss.
Despite frequently talking about his squad’s depth, Gustavsson rarely turned to his bench during Australia’s campaign and on Saturday named an unchanged starting line-up, despite a three-day turnaround, from the 3-1 semi-final loss to England.
The gamble of not calling on fresh legs backfired as the lethargic Matildas’ best-ever World Cup ended on a sour note.
For most of the game, Australia were dominated by the energetic Swedes.
Fridolina Rolfo gave Sweden the lead on the half-hour mark from the penalty spot and Kosovare Asllani added a long-range second in the 62nd minute.
Many of the players were in tears during the lap of honour at Suncorp Stadium
Ellie Carpenter was another Aussie who gave away her playing boots to fans
A young supporter pictured with her World Cup memento from Ellie Carpenter
Australia’s largely blunted, and seemingly exhausted, attack were unable to mount a comeback.
Gustavsson said his often-repeated mantra that it would take ’23 in 23′ didn’t ‘necessarily mean that every player should play’ but that they all had a role.
‘If I would have rotated a lot of players and then lose it would be ‘why didn’t you stick with it?’. And if I (was) not rotating and lose, that will be a sharp question, which is fair,’ Gustavsson said.
Of the 23-player squad, only 14 featured in an average of 30 or more minutes per match while Caitlin Foord, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley were run into the ground.
‘We’ve had a clear strategy going into tournaments based on experience but also based on some stats,’ Gustavsson said.
‘If you look at both men’s and women’s big tournaments and you look at teams that have gone far and won a lot of medals, continuity in starting lineup and less rotation in rosters have been a success factor.
‘And with the relationship, the more time you spend together, the better you play together. It’s not necessarily always about the best players.
‘But I also want to say this with the biggest respect to my game changers (substitutes), I’m not criticising them by saying this, the players know that this has been a clear strategy. You saw it in the Olympics, you saw it now.
‘It might be the reason why this team have been able to break barriers and bypass and break records and create history, that could be the reason why.’