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'People concerned don't know football' - Kerr brushes off Matildas criticism

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Sam Kerr has brushed off criticism after the Matildas suffered heavy defeats to Germany and the Netherlands, saying the Australian team are remaining confident ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Matildas went down 5-2 to the Germans and 5-0 to the Dutch last week in a pair of international friendlies.

It was the national team’s first matches since March 2020 and the first under new head coach Tony Gustavsson.

The 5-0 mauling at the hands of the Netherlands was Australia’s biggest defeat in 13 years.

But captain Kerr insists concern over the results is unwarranted considering the circumstances and the fact the team were weakened by injuries and player unavailability through COVID-19.

“People that are concerned don’t know anything about football to be honest because if you look that its 400 days apart from games, nine key players missing,” Kerr told The World Game.

“That’s just the media trying to be relevant. We’re just focusing on ourselves. We feel confident, we believe in the coach and in what we’re doing and we’ll be fine come the Olympics.

“Obviously it was difficult, we got beat by a considerable amount. But I think people forget we haven’t been together for 400 days.

“We’ve had no camps, we had no players from our Australian leagues, we had players out with COVID, players out with injury. So it was a really big learning week for us – new coach [as well].

“We’re not making excuses for ourselves, as we need to be better for sure. But there’s also a lot of factors that go into those results – new coach, new staff. Yeah, it was a difficult week.”

The 23-player squad chosen for the two friendlies did not feature a single player from the W-League and was without injured stars such as Steph Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight and Kyah Simon, along with pregnant midfielder Katrina Gorry.

Kerr admitted it was difficult for Gustavsson to make his stamp on the team in the short time available considering the unusual conditions and coronavirus-impacted environment.

“It was hard for Tony to implement what he wanted to do in a few days, and we had people coming in later, people coming off games,” she said.

“It’s not as simple as when we all used to be in the W-League and people just used to be able to come in whenever they wanted. It was difficult but it was good to get back together after over a year and play some games and get some training in.”

The Matildas will head to Japan in three months for the Olympic Games, which kick off on July 21. The draw for the Olympics will be made in Zurich on April 21.

Kerr is unsure if Australia will have more friendlies scheduled before the tournament begins, but says the squad will make do with what happens.

“I’m just a player, I just do what I’m told,” the striker said.

“But with government rules in Australia and with things up in the air, and you saw that with this camp, we couldn’t pick one player from Australia.

“It’s not in our control but we just have to roll with the punches and we’re probably going to be the team with the least amount of camps going into the Olympics.

"But, being Aussie, we kind of like that underdog mentality. We just have to put it together and make the most of what we can.”