Why didn’t Tony Gustavsson use Matildas penalty specialist Kyah Simon against France even though their World Cup campaign was on the line?
Of all the stories to emerge from the penalty shootout that eventually led Australia to a sudden death semi-final against England, one in particular had football fans scratching their heads: Why wasn’t the star of Matildas, Kyah Simon, who will take a penalty?
It is a role that seemed to be tailored for him in this World Cup.
Much like a pinch hitter in baseball, one of the main reasons the 32-year-old made the team is her ability to take spot kicks during penalty kicks.
Many fans were taken aback when Simon (pictured, center, in Matildas’ training) was not called into action when the game against France ended in a penalty shootout.
Simon (in the 17 shirt) was patrolling the touchline hoping for a chance to play against France, but was left out by manager Tony Gustavsson despite his experience shooting from the spot.
Simon is like a bomb disposal expert in front of goal. He rarely makes mistakes and Gustavsson must have been tempted to send her off after both overtime periods expired with the scores still tied at nil.
After all, he had picked Simon, who has been battling an ACL injury since October, in this 23-man squad as a player who could be a game-changer late in games.
“There are a lot of players sitting on that bench who are ready to go in,” Gustavsson explained in his post-game press conference.
‘What do you plan for a moment like this? And you saw how it was, like the last three or four minutes, we weren’t sure about extra time until the last minute… it was an extra four minutes.
So we wanted to make some key decisions, if they score, what do we do to score? If we score, how can I close out the game? Because it can happen in a matter of seconds.
“And because it was so tight and Kyah has had limited playing time, I wanted to wait until the last second if I brought her in and I didn’t find that break to bring her in was the right one.”
Gustavsson made three crucial substitutions in the match, bringing on Sam Kerr, Cortnee Vine and Tameka Yallop.
Tameka Yallop (pictured) was brought in to play the final minutes and take a penalty before Simon, and she did not disappoint.
EVERYTHING IS STARTING!
All three used their chances from the spot to help send their team into Wednesday’s knockout game against England.
Simon would probably be next if the shooting continued.
“Kyah was ready to go on for a penalty,” confirmed Gustavsson.
‘I think in a game like this, if you’re working on my head with all the thoughts… it’s hard.
‘Sometimes you do it right, sometimes you do it wrong.
“We had her on the side and in the technical area ready to go and the same thing happened with Clare Polkinghorne.”