Asian Cup win lifts Kate Gill’s world view

REACHING HER GOAL: Matilda's player Kate Gill, pictured in 2008.
REACHING HER GOAL: Matilda's player Kate Gill, pictured in 2008.

WITH an Asian Cup winner’s medal around her neck, Matildas striker Kate Gill is determined to be Australia’s leading lady at next year’s World Cup.

The 25-year-old New Lambton junior sealed Australia’s passage to the 2011 World Cup in Germany when she scored in the Matildas’ 1-0 semi-final victory over Japan last Thursday at the Asian Cup in Chengdu, China.

The tournament served as a qualifier for the World Cup.

Gill backed her effort up on Sunday night when she showed calmness under pressure to slot home a penalty in Australia’s shoot-out win over North Korea in the Asian Cup final.

The scores were locked at 1-all after 120minutes after goals to Sam Kerr for Australia and Ra Un Sim for North Korea, who are No.7 in the world, before the Matildas claimed a 5-4 victory in the shoot-out.

Novocastrian midfielder Lauren Colthorpe was also part of the match, which was played in torrential rain.

Australia’s qualification for the pinnacle of football guaranteed, and Gill’s focus has turned to securing her place in the Matildas’ strike force.

When asked yesterday whether becoming Australia’s No.1 striker was her World Cup mission, Gill said: ‘‘It’s a big personal aim of mine.

‘‘I’m feeling fantastic at the moment, confident and fit and really enjoying my football.’’

Gill’s major rival for the leading striker berth is her Perth Glory W-League teammate Lisa De Vanna.

De Vanna missed the Asian Cup final after breaking her leg in a group match against China on May 23.

The Matildas, who are ranked 14 in the world, became the first Australian football team to win the Asian Cup, but Gill said sealing the World Cup berth was more important for her.

‘‘It is definitely a major highlight but more so scoring a goal against Japan to qualify for the World Cup was probably the best thing I’ve done,’’ she said. ‘‘We had three goals at the start – make it out of our group, qualify for the World Cup and then win the Asian Cup.

‘‘The final was a more relaxed game to go into than the one against Japan, although there was a lot at stake, because we had qualified.’’

Many consider the Matildas reaching the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup as Australian women’s football’s greatest achievement.

But Gill, who has scored 28 goals in 58 appearances for Australia, said her own memories of the tournament were not so exciting after playing in one match of the 2007 tournament.

‘‘I was in the squad but I didn’t get much game time,’’ Gill said. ‘‘It wasn’t very memorable for me.’’

The Matildas are due to arrive in Sydney this morning but Gill will not be among them, because she is flying to Sweden today to rejoin club side LdB FC Malmo.

LdB FC Malmo lead the Damallsvenskan, the top women’s league in Sweden.

Gill has scored three goals in four appearances in the Swedish league.