With the Women’s World Cup Round of 16 upon us, Melbourne Victory Head Coach Jeff Hopkins gave his insight into all things WWC and Victory.
There are going to be plenty of current and former Victory stars set to feature at the Women’s World Cup Round of 16, with a familiar face set to take on the Matildas on Monday night.
Former Melbourne Victory attacker Rikke Madsen will look to feature for Denmark when The Red and White take on the Matildas.
Madsen scored twice in seven appearances for Victory and her former Head Coach, Jeff Hopkins, believes she could be a danger for the Aussies.
“I think the biggest danger is her pace,” Hopkins told KeepUp’s Dub At The Cup podcast.
“If we get into poor defensive positions against her, she will have the ability to, with the ball at her feet, to go past our back four or to get in behind them, so it’s something we’ve got to really watch.”
Speaking on the Matildas, Hopkins believes, in hindsight, the loss to Nigeria in the group stage was a “godsend”.
“I think, maybe the little hiccup we had against Nigeria, in the bigger picture, we might look back on that and think that was a bit of a godsend for us, that it made us look at ourselves and question ourselves in the group stage,” he explained.
“That was probably a good thing that doesn’t happen in a knockout game.
“And I think the girls are going to be just, I think, buoyed and really motivated by the game that we played in Melbourne and the fact that they know now everyone’s so, so behind them.”
With the Tillies looking to progress to the quarter-finals, Jeff believes that Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson deserves credit for how he responded after the loss.
“He (Tony) took things on the chin after that performance. And he put out then the right team played the right way and got the team up to play an absolutely unbelievable performance to win that game against Canada, who were a very, very good side,” Jeff said.
“I think everyone needs to say, ‘Hey, well done. You did a really good job there’”.
Full of praise for the Matildas defensive structure against Canada, Hopkins has especially been impressed by former Victory star Kyra Cooney-Cross and believes the “sky is the limit” for her game.
“She’s been absolutely amazing in the three games that I’ve seen her,” he said.
“I guess what I’ve seen from her is the consistency of performance that maybe she did a lot of these things for us when she was a younger player, but could she do them for 90 minutes? Probably not.
“But it just amazes me how she’s like a 100-game veteran, and it really excites me to see where she’s going to go too because she’s been one of the players across the whole of the competition that I’ve really been so impressed with.”
Looking ahead to the future of football in Australia, Hopkins explained that the growth of women’s football is “crazy”.
“It’s crazy now and it’s the way it should be,” he said.
“These players have earned what they’re going to be given. I say, given but they’ve actually gone out and earned it with hard work, with performances at club level, on the training field and international level as well.
“The game is in a really good position at the moment. Hopefully, we talk about legacy, this country will jump on the bandwagon and everyone within the game here has a bit of an obligation to help move the game on. Worldwide the game is in a great place.”
The Matildas face Denmark on Monday 7 August at 8pm AEST.