Tuesday 18 June 2019, 23:08

High-flying Kerr soars to new Aussie landmark

  • Sam Kerr wrote her name into the history books with a four-goal haul

  • The Australian skipper lifted her side into second for a meeting with Norway

  • Kerr channelled Tim Cahill by firing home two textbook headers

By Pete Smith with Australia

Tim Cahill has long been the iconic figure around which Australia’s World Cup narrative has been written. But now future generations of Australian fans might use the name Sam Kerr as their World Cup touchstone.

Kerr almost single-handedly hauled Australia into second place in 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Group C by netting all her team’s goals in a 4-1 win over Jamaica, setting up a Round of 16 match-up against Norway.

The four-goal haul saw Kerr become the first Australian to score a hat-trick in a senior World Cup and pushes the prolific striker into France 2019 adidas Golden Boot contention.

The first two goals were majestic Cahill-esque headers in which Kerr made the difficult look simple. Despite a modest build, Kerr has long been a powerful presence in the air.

“I am coming for his heading record,” laughed Kerr when asked about her similarity to Cahill in the air. “I grew up watching Timmy Cahill.

“Headers are my favourite goals. I think it just comes naturally for me, I know it is one of my strengths so I try and work on it a bit. Maybe it is coming from an AFL (Australian Rules football) background and getting up there (in the air).”

Kerr now has four headed strikes in her past seven goals. The 25-year-old has netted 28 in her past 30 internationals dating back to mid-2017, having also scored against Italy last week.

“One to tell my kids about," said Kerr about her goal haul. “Any time you break a record, especially for your country, it is an amazing feeling.

“Something like that is something I might look back on at the end of my career but right now I’m just happy to help the team.”

Sam Kerr's numbers

  • First Australian to score a hat-trick at a senior World Cup

  • Only Michelle Akers (USA, 1991) and Alex Morgan (USA, 2019) have scored more goals in a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ single match

  • Most goals for Australia at a single edition of the tournament (beating Lisa De Vanna's four goals in 2007)

  • Australia’s equal biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup™ win (4-1 against Ghana, 2007)

Despite the glory of a large-scoring victory it was a tense night for Kerr and her team. The Aussies pushed Brazil into third-place on goals-for with the positions not settled until the full-time whistle in each match.

Another goal for either Brazil or Jamaica would have shuffled Australia down to third, in theory meaning a tougher draw. But the Aussies, in keeping with their pre-match mantra, were focused only on attacking at every opportunity rather than adjusting tactics based around the group standings

“I didn’t know how important it was at the time,” said Kerr. “I didn’t once ask what the score was in the other game until after our game. So for us it was just a case of focusing on ourselves, which we did, and the last goal ended up sealing it so I’m happy.”

Australia coach Ante Milicic on Sam Kerr

“She’s an inspirational leader. As an Australian football community we should be thankful we’re witnessing one of the best players in the world live. She got her rewards and fully deserved it. She’s a special one. It’s history. All of the accolades must go to her but also the service she got from the rest of the team.”

Jamaica coach Hue Menzies on Sam Kerr

“She is resilient, a natural goalscorer, and she plays for the badge. I just love her attitude and especially in the box. She brings in her whole team behind her. A lot of kudos to the kid, I would pay to watch her.”