Versatile Foord proves her worth for the Matildas

Coaches don’t afford players huge praise unless they’re sure they can handle it and Caitlin Foord has reacted exactly how Matildas coach Alen Stajcic would have liked to his extraordinarily high rating of her potential.

Caitlin Foord

Source: Getty Images

After Foord, 21, had scored both goals in Australia’s 2-0 win over New Zealand in Ballarat on Saturday, Stajcic said of her: “She’s an unbelievable player. You just see how she runs at people, causes problems for opposition defences, and if she can add goal-scoring to her list of attributes there’s no reason she can’t be one of the best players in the world.”

Asked what she thought of those comments, Foord said: “That’s obviously pretty good to hear, but I’ve got a lot of improvement, a lot of learning to do before I can consider myself even close to that category.

“I’m just taking each game as it comes and trying to get better and better each time.”

Foord is not afraid to say she has the ambition to be one of the world’s best.

“Yeah, of course, that would be amazing,” she said. “Obviously I just try to be the best I can be and if that was to go next to my name that would be pretty awesome, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do to try to get to that level.”

Like many of the current Matildas, Foord made her international debut while very young. She was just 16 when she first played for Australia, in May, 2011, yet within two months she had been judged best young player of the tournament at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Now 21, she has already played 44 times for her country, but when asked if she felt like a young veteran she explained why it didn’t feel that way to her.

“A lot of the other girls have done the same kind of thing,” she said. “So it doesn’t really feel like that to me, because we’ve all done it together. We’ve gained that experience together and turned into more experienced players as a whole.

“It might feel like that young veteran kind of thing if you did it on your own, but when it’s been a core group of us we just feel like we’re working together and supporting each other, as a team.”

Foord has grown up in a hurry, though. The experience of playing in big tournaments as a teenager and travelling the world inevitably does that to you.

Asked to describe herself now, compared to when she was 16, she said: “I was young and now I’ve got that experience behind me and it has made a big difference.

“All the travelling and two World Cups and two Olympic qualifying tournaments, I’ve played a lot of tough games and I’ve got that strong mentality now.

“Back then I was just hoping to get more game-time and now I want to play a main role in the team and score some goals and do some things for the team, like I did on Saturday.”

Foord has spent a lot of her time with the Matildas as a right-back who reacted well to the task of getting forward in attack and Stajcic obviously has plans to utilise her attacking skills by playing her as a winger more often.

She said she would play anywhere to get on the field, but that she had been concentrating on improving her finishing for a while in anticipation of spending more time as an attacker.

“It’s something I’ve gone away and worked really hard on, my finishing, because it was something I wasn’t very good at and something I’d get frustrated with myself about during the games when I was up there, because I couldn’t finish,” Foord said.

“When I put that second one away against New Zealand on Saturday I was really stoked, because 12 months ago there was no way I would have put that in the back of the net.”

Foord said the Matildas were looking to hold their intensity for much longer when they play New Zealand again at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night. They dropped off at times in Saturday’s game.

“The first 15 minutes we were all very happy with,” she said. “Now we want to play like that for the full 90 minutes, build our way into the game and keep that intensity. We’re going to need that intensity for the full 90 minutes when we play at the Olympics in a couple of months.”

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5 min read
Published 7 June 2016 at 12:33pm
By Greg Prichard