Lisa de Vanna says Australia can win World Cup, Olympic medals, Amanda Lulham, Swoop


IT was a moment that rocked the equilibrium of world football and which veteran Lisa De Vanna says turned the Matildas and their supporters into true believers.

The moment in August the Australian goal-scoring record breaker looked up and saw 1-0 on the scoreboard in a game against football powerhouse the US on their home turf.

It was a result which also helped pave the way for Australia’s first-ever Tournament of Nations win but De Vanna says walking off the pitch knowing a winning scorecard now exists against the US confirmed what the Matildas privately dared to dream — World Cup and Olympic medals are there for the taking.

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“I have been in the team for so long. The US used to smash us but then the gap started to close,’’ said De Vanna, who maintains self-belief has been hammered into the Matildas since coach Alen Stajcic took over a team which last year fell just short of making an Olympic medal match.

“It was bound to happen, the win. Now we have got to the place where if we can beat the US, we know we can beat anyone.

“They are a team that believes in themselves. They have a winning mentality. Now we have that mentality. We know we can do it. We believe we can.

“I knew going into the game we were going to win. I could sense it. Everyone was happy and relaxed. We had been together for so long.

“I think in the World Cup (in 2015) we outplayed them in the first half but couldn’t match it mentally in the second. This time I knew if we were mentally strong and played good football we would beat them.

“Now we are believers.’’

De Vanna, who revealed she loved the game so much as a child she slept with her football, says she also has the belief Australia can win a World Cup, as soon as in 2019.

“It used to be like, if we had to play the US or Brazil, if we were to win, we would have the angels looking out for us.

“Now I am confident enough we can play any team and win it.

“It’s great to see that we can potentially win a World Cup. I believe we can.’’

The two-time Olympian has spent most of her life playing for passion and love of the game.

She sold raffle tickets to fund herself to tournaments, moved away from home as a teenager to play and has become a legend of the game, known for her grit and grind, endurance and longevity.

At the Tournament of Nations her legends status was confirmed with a brace in the gold medal 6-1 routing of Brazil seeing her match and then eclipse the Matildas goal-scoring record.

De Vanna says the 42-goal milestone is something she will treasure later, but in the short term has simply “set me free’’.

“I hadn’t scored since the Olympics, I played seven matches this year and hadn’t scored,’’ she said.

“It was playing on my mind because people constantly reminded me ‘it’s two goals away, just put them away’. I started thinking about it too much.

“To have that off my shoulder is a fantastic achievement. When I look back I know it will be great. Now I feel freed by it. The weight is off my shoulder.

“And it’s nice to go into games and being more clinical. I can just play and not feel like I am always looking for a chance.’’

At 32 and with 124 caps, De Vanna knows her playing career has an expiry date but just when she will call it quits is anyone’s guess.

“At the end of the day I want to be consistently good. I want to be dangerous, quick and good at scoring goals,’’ she said.

“I am taking it year by year but if I can make it to another World Cup and Olympics I think I have done a good job.

“Staj (Alen Stajcic) thinks I can play until I’m 40. But that won’t happen. I want to end my career on a high note. If we win a World Cup or a gold medal I’ll probably walk.’’

De Vanna said she is thrilled at the Penrith sellout and what it means for women’s football and its fans.

“If we start getting people coming to our games we can have more games here,’’ she said.

“It builds our brand at home. It would be great to get teams like England, Germany, the US here. They are the power nations.’’

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