Australia’s star striker ruled out of World Cup

Gill to spent the next 12 months on the sidelines

By Ann Odong

Australian National Team striker and reigning AFC Women’s Footballer of the Year Kate Gill has been ruled out the FIFA Women’s World Cup after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Gill injured her knee in innocuous fashion Thursday last week in her Swedish side, Linköpings FC’s 4-0 Cup victory and will now spend the next 12 months on the sidelines.

With a little more seven weeks until the tournament, it’s a big blow for an Australian side looking to better their 2007 quarterfinal appearance.

“This is a massive blow for Katie, who has been going from strength-to-strength over the past few years,” Westfield Matildas Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “Everyone is sad and disappointed after she has been playing so strong in the last 18 months. She has raised her game to another level.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri who, on Facebook today, wrote an open letter to the fans of the Australian Women’s National Team.

“It pains me to think that after all the years of hard work and training to secure her place as a starting 11 player at this World Cup (her World Cup), the misfortune of injury has stripped her of her chance to shine on the world stage,” she wrote.

This afternoon, the striker underwent surgery in Adelaide, South Australia, but with a 12-month recovery period, Gill might not only miss the World Cup but also the Matildas Olympics campaign if they are to make it. However, one thing that coach and captain both agree on is that if there is one person to recover stronger than ever, it is the ever professional Gill.

“Although it is devastating news for Katie, she is a true professional, and I am sure she will come back stronger than ever,” said Sermanni.

Captain and friend Barberi also had no doubts about her ability to return.

“Although this is a devastating blow for Kate and our team, you can be sure the player who has the mental toughness and drive to make a full comeback is Kate Gill,” she went to say. “She embodies professionalism and that self-motivation that makes a champion.”

While the loss of Australia’s Matildas second all-time highest goal scorer will leave a hole in the squad, Sermanni is positive that they have the depth to cover her loss.

“We’re in a healthier position to be able to deal with this situation due to the potent group of strikers that we have at our disposal and we will continue to work hard in our preparations for the World Cup next month and our upcoming matches against New Zealand,” concluded Sermanni.