Matildas coach Ante Milicic has hailed an “inspirational” Sam Kerr for her brilliant individual performance against Jamaica.
Kerr scored four goals to deliver Australia a 4-1 win, with her fourth goal ensuring Australia finished second in Group C above Brazil.
For that goal, the Matildas skipper pinched the ball from Jamaica goalkeeper Nicole McClure before poking the ball home.
Milicic said both that type of opportunistic goal, and Kerr’s two headers were “classic Sam” goals, praising his captain’s leadership.
“That’s the kind of team we are. We call that classic Sam,” he said.
“I think a header’s a classic Sam as well. She’s an inspirational leader.
“We, as an Australian footballing community, should be thankful that we’re witnessing one of the best players in the world live.
I’m very fortunate to work with her and coach her, and in the end she got her rewards and she fully deserved that.”
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Kerr made history with her hat-trick in the 69th minute, becoming the first Australian of either gender to record a hat-trick in a World Cup finals.
Her fourth goal also delivered the third-highest individual tally in a Women’s World Cup game, behind Alex Morgan and Michelle Akers, who each scored five.
Milicic said he had tried to take the focus away from heavy goal scoring pre-game, but praised Kerr for making “history” with her effort.
He also praised Kerr’s teammates for their delivery to their star striker.
“It was interesting in the lead-up to the game you know Sammy’s all about goals,” he said.
“We didn’t want to have that focus before the game, particularly about individuals. It was more about getting a result and winning the game. Strikers are like that.
“She’s a special one and in the end I’m fortunate not only with the win but if there’s one player you’re really happy for to score the goals it’s Sammy. So I’m delighted for her.
“It’s history, as an Australian player at a World Cup to do what she’s done.
“All the accolades must go to Sam but also the service she got throughout the game from the rest of the team.”