‘All the hardships’ driving Matildas’ Micah towards a new goal

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12 months after the concussion that changed everything, the clouds are finally clearing for Teagan Micah.

Fresh from making her Women’s Super League (WSL) debut for Liverpool, the Matildas goalkeeper gets the chance to reclaim the mantle of Australian No.1 that she lost due to the consequences of her own bravery – and the 26-year-old is in the mood to take that opportunity.

A two-match series with Canada promises to be an uplifting end to a difficult year for a goalkeeper who 12 months ago was at the top of her game, but played just nine games in the first 11 months of 2023 following a severe and prolonged concussion sustained in a UEFA Women’s Champions League game for Rosengard almost exactly a year ago.

In her absence, Mackenzie Arnold became Tony Gustavsson’s first choice and helped to create history for the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup with a series of saves in the penalty shootout defeat of France in the quarter-finals.

But Arnold’s absence from this camp through her own injury opens the door for Micah, in the knowledge that an Olympic qualification play-off with Uzbekistan in February will – if all goes to plan – be followed by the actual Olympics later next year.

No wonder Micah is grateful to Liverpool for signing her in September, even though playing opportunities have so far been limited. But a clean sheet against Brighton and Hove Albion last week capped her first game in the WSL, and is the perfect tonic to face the reigning Olympic champions.

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“Liverpool ’s such a big club and just an honour to wear the jersey,” she said.

“As a player it’s a great environment, especially working with Pottsy (goalkeeping coach Joe Potts) and (head coach) Matt Beard.

“They’re just good people and have created a very welcoming environment at Melwood, even though I missed most of pre-season so I always knew it would be tough to get games initially.

Micah trains with the Matildas in Canada.

”I was playing catch up for a while but I had to know the opportunities would come and I have a lot of trust in myself from knowing I’ve put in the hard work.

“Doing that day to day means when push comes to shove and suddenly you’re playing games, you’re not coming from a low benchmark. You know it’s not a big leap up to put into practice everything you’ve done in preparation.

“It just means I’m really happy. I hadn’t played a lot of football but Liverpool wanted me, they recruited me and it is an honour – my friends and family are so proud. It’s the kind of thing you dream of.”

It’s also a move that has sharpened Micah’s profile, but she has no complaints about the reaction from fans of her club or country.

Micah of the Matildas takes a selfie with the fans after the Olympic Qualifier v Iran in Perth in October.

“Certainly I feel like a bit more recognisable and I probably have to keep my head down a bit more,” she said. “But it’s a great city and I get along with the girls in the squad really well.

“I like the fact that it feels like (Australian) fans before were following what we do just with the Matildas but now they’ve got more investment in our club football because we’re playing for these big clubs.”

Still there’s a sense of making up for lost time, after the concussion arguably cost her a starting place at the World Cup.

It puts a lot of weight on this mini-series, and Micah is under no illusions about what’s at stake.

“I just played for Liverpool and that’s giving me massive confidence coming into these games, it’s a big opportunity against a top-10 nation. If I can put in a big performance with the girls it’s a big chance for me.

“Canada are such a good team, and both teams are hopefully building towards Olympic qualification.

“But it’s exciting for me too – I feel really good in myself after all the hardships I’ve been through.”

Canada v Matildas
Date: Friday, 1 December 2023 (local) / Saturday, 2 December (AEDT)
Kick-off: 7.30pm PST (local) / 2.30pm (AEDT)
Venue: Starlight Stadium, Langford, BC
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

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, BC
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+