Australia forced to start World Cup campaign without Sam Kerr

Australia's Sam Kerr crosses the ball during friendly match against France (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Australia's Sam Kerr crosses the ball during friendly match against France (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) /
Sam Kerr World Cup
Australia’s Sam Kerr (left) and Kyah Simon watch their teammates warm up before their World Cup match against Ireland. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) /

Sam Kerr is not just the face of Australia, she’s the face of the World Cup.

As captain of one of the host countries and indisputably one of the top few players in the world, she’s been on every piece of promotional material leading up to the tournament. She’s Australia’s North Star, and now they’ll have to navigate the opening matches without her.

Having suffered a calf injury in training, Kerr was ruled out of Thursday’s opening match against the Republic of Ireland as well as next Thursday’s match against Nigeria. At that point, her ability to play will be re-evaluated.

Though they had the better numbers on the stats sheet, Australia had little to show for themselves in the opening match besides a goal off of a soft PK call (though in fairness to Steph Catley, who stepped up as captain and PK taker in Kerr’s absence, she still had to convert the PK which she did quite skillfully).

Shaky or not, a win’s a win and the victory will do wonders to boost morale for a squad that had little to no time to mentally prepare for competing without their leader and primary goal scorer. That significant loss to their lineup could have been debilitating.

Sam Kerr is why Australia is part of the discussion

As a team trending upwards with on-the-field success heading into a World Cup at home, The Matildas were often included in conversations about potential tournament winners. However, if Kerr fails to return for game 3 or returns and underperforms, Australia will swiftly fall out of the conversation. The team has enough talent to advance from the group stages without her, but beyond that, they need their star and they need her at her best.

Next. Kelley O'Hara back for fourth World Cup. dark

Kerr’s off-field guidance is invaluable. But is it enough? I can’t imagine that it would be, and the Matilda’s are hoping she’s not gone long enough for them to find out.