Chloe Logarzo, Emily van Egmond and Gema Simon in Newcastle on Monday. Picture: Simone De PeakMatildas midfielder Chloe Logarzo traces the side’s hard-won popularity back to the Asian Olympic qualifiers in Japan 15 months ago.
waltzed through the final qualifying tournament undefeated, playing to a TV audience back home of more than 300,000.
They carried that form to the Rio Games, where they lost on penalties to hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals, then they topped their group at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, in front of the Netherlands, Sweden and China, before losing to Denmark on penalties in the third-place play-off.
Matildas ride winning streak into Newcastle GOLDEN GIRLS: The Matildas celebrate after Lisa De Vanna scored with a long-range volley against Brazil on Saturday in Penrith. The FFA expects a crowd of more than 14,000 for Tuesday’s night’s second game at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: AAP
TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald on Monday.“The fact we’ve started being successful, everything feels like it’s falling into place and we are being portrayed as the elite athletes we should be.
“We were so successful in the Japan campaign for the Olympic qualifiers, and that’s where we really first sparked the love and everyone really got behind that and watched us.The TV ratings were ridiculous, and that was a really goodstart.”
Logarzo, who last appeared in the W-League for Newcastle early last year and now plays for Norwegian club Avaldsnes, came off the bench inthe last 15 minutes on Saturday and hopes for more game time in front of her adopted home crowd on Tuesday.
Fellow midfielderEmily van Egmond said beating Brazil again last weekend, after the 6-1 rout in California, was “sweet” revenge for the Rio disappointment.
“They’ve knocked us out of an Olympic Games, and obviously it hurt,” she said.
“Tournament of Nations they were missing some key players, so that’s what made the victory even more sweet on Saturday at Penrith.I think they were pretty close to their full-strength squad.
“To have a five-time player of the year come out like Marta and to beat them 2-1 is awesome and shows what direction this team’s going in.”
She said the recent success followed years of hard work by the players, coach Alen Stajcic and his support staff, who include her father, assistant coach Gary van Egmond.
“I think we had success in America, and I don’t know if we would have had these crowds [without it], but we’ve been playing some exciting football for a while.
“I think it’s great that we’re able to come home and show the exciting brand that we are playing.We’ve heard nothing but good things about the crowd.”
The former Newcastle midfielder, who now plies her trade with Wolfsburg in Germany’s Women’s Bundesliga, said n football was following the lead of other sports with better pay for women at W-League and international level.
“I think women’s sport in general in is going in the right direction. You see what AFL are doing, even Cricket with their contracts.
“With that comes a high level of professionalism and expectation, and that’s what we want to aim for, to be regarded among the other best countries in the world.”
Jets captain and Matildas left back Gema Simon, who also plays forAvaldsnes,did not take the field on Saturday but said the sellout crowd was “surreal”.
“Growing up in Newcastle and always wanting to play in the national team, to be able to do both at home is pretty special,” she said.
Simon and Logarzo will fly out of on Wednesday and are due to play in Norway on Saturday.
Simonsaid she would return to Newcastle after her club commitments end on either November 4 or 18. The W-League starts on the last weekend in October.
WINNERS MATILDAS’ TICKETS
The winners of the Newcastle Herald Matildas ticket giveaway for the game in Newcastle on Tuesday night were:
Melinda Cullen, Brendon Farrar, George Cottrell, Steve Harrison and Emma Levine