Matildas and Arsenal star Caitlin Foord looks back on 2023 with mixed emotions.
On one hand, the experiences of an enormous calendar year, which included an English League Cup – or Continental Cup – title with the Gunners and a run to the semi-finals of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted on home soil, provide Foord with the fondest of memories.
But then come the thoughts of what could have been.
While Foord and the Matildas prepared for their last game in 2023 – a friendly against Canada at BC Place in Vancouver on Wednesday, December 6 (AEDT) – the forward was asked to reflect on the year gone by.
Her response featured a tinge of regret; then came a determined look toward the future.
“It’s been successful, but also not,” Foord said.
“I feel like we’ve been good, both club and country, but just fell short both times.
“I think there’s been a lot to learn from, and a lot gained as well, but I don’t have much in my trophy cabinet to show for it.
“I have a Conti Cup, but that’s about it. It just makes me hungry for more.
“At Arsenal, to win the league and do well in the FA Cup and keep the Conti Cup, qualify for Champions League. Then next year we (the Matildas) have the Olympics as well. So I hope this year is a stepping stone in the right direction for next year.”
Foord’s Arsenal currently sit three points behind Chelsea in second spot on the Women’s Super League table. But before Foord can return to clubland and round out the New Year in red and white, comes one last test in national colours.
Foord was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition at the hands of Canada at Stalight Stadium; it was a hefty defeat which led to criticism of head coach Tony Gustavsson’s decision to play an experimental starting XI which was well and truly dominated by the reigning Olympic gold medallists.
Foord is one of many of the Matildas’ experienced campaigners expected to push for a start in the second of two friendlies in Vancouver.
CANADA 5-0 MATILDAS: Experimental Matildas side falls to five-goal demolition at the hands of Canada
She says any criticism of the Matildas’ performance across these two friendlies should take into account the context of what Gustavsson is trying to achieve with squad rotation and a tactical switch-up.
“We’re trying to trial new things; that’s in a way, a new playing style,” Foord said.
“We haven’t had many trainings doing it, let alone a competition match against a top opponent. I guess it’s just seeing how that works and how it goes as well, it’s just another style we’re able to play come the tournament. I think it’s important to be flexible with what game plan you have, so to have another one in our toolbox which we’re trialling will be massive.
“The game is growing so quickly. With all the analysis, footage and stuff like that, it’s not like it used to be. You spent a lot more hours on opponents and what they do. I guess for us, it’s about finding ways no matter how a team plays, we’ll have a solution. It’s about finding the space; against top teams you have very little space and time. It’s about playing quicker.
“It’s about us getting on the same page and being flexible, being able to move in and out of different formations and different styles. I guess this is a good test.”
When are the Matildas playing?
Canada v Matildas
Date: Tuesday, 5 December 2023 (local) / Wednesday, 6 December (AEDT)
Kick-off: 7.00pm PST (local) / 2.00pm (AEDT)
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver
How can I watch?
The match will be available live and free on Network 10 and Paramount+.