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Published Time: 03.06.2024 - 06:00:44 Modified Time: 03.06.2024 - 06:00:44

By Samantha Lewis Matildas

The only reason the World Cup match didn't hit the 82,000 capacity of this venue is because FIFA had to make some adjustments to cater for media, corporate suites, sponsors etc, which reduced the overall seating numbers.

But none of that exists here tonight. If it's true that this is another sell-out match, it'll set a new record not just for a Matildas home game, but possibly rocket them into the top six for the most attended women's football matches .

How bloody good!

By Samantha Lewis

With 80,000 plus in the house tonight it's great to see so many big guns in the starting 11 and Lydia Williams in goal...hoping for hi octane from the get go!

- stumcin

Come on Matildas! Let's show them what we're made of!

- Mickey from Canberra

By Samantha Lewis

For their final send-off game, has made five changes, bringing in and

and drop to the bench.

What do we make of that, team? Are you surprised? Or was this expected after the Adelaide game?

By Samantha Lewis

Hi Sam, can i confirm please, do we have an exact date for when the olympics squad is named. Waching Live from Liverpool, England as always. I will be hoping to see our very own Clare Wheeler tonight (This morning my Time)

- ian

Mackenzie Arnold definitely starts as keeper for the Matildas in Paris after the game in Adelaide and depending on how Lydia Williams performs between the sticks today she might get a swansong in Paris as the second goalkeeper. In terms of the forward line, Michelle Heyman might be on the plane to her first Olympics since 2016, as will Mary Fowler and if she can recover in time, Caitlin Foord.

- Adam

The final 18-player squad for the Paris Olympics will be named tomorrow morning at 10:00am AEST.

Who are we confident will be there, fam? Or, maybe an easier thing to answer is: who misses out?

By Samantha Lewis

Tonight's match will be a particularly special one for goalkeeper , who announced earlier this year that she will be retiring from the national team after an incredible 19-year career with the Matildas.

It's difficult to overstate just how crucial Williams has been to the growth of women's football in Australia. She's been the country's longest-serving goalkeeper ever (men or women), making it to five Women's World Cups, six Asian Cups, and two Olympics since her first senior cap in 2005.

Behind the scenes, Williams has also been an incredible advocate for growing the women's game, especially in her capacity with the players' union, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), which she is the Vice President of.

But she's 36 years old now, and her body is breaking down. An ankle injury put a premature end to her most recent A-League Women season with Melbourne Victory, and has accepted that there are goalkeepers coming in behind her that she now needs to make space for.

“I’m just at that point where I’ve sacrificed everything for football and it’s given me so much, and it’s time that I let it be open for the next group,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It would be selfish for me to try to hold on as much as I can when it’s past my time. Mentally, I can keep going. But physically, the demands of modern-day football now are so much more than when I first began, and my body just can’t continue.

“I talked with the girls, and talked with my mum and family and friends, because they’ve been the ones who have copped me missing out on things and putting them second.

"When they gave the all clear, it was an easy decision to put someone else first for a change. I don’t really want to picture my last game with the girls because we’ve been through so much together, but it has to happen.”

This will be her last game on home soil, and she will be honoured not just with a start between the sticks for the final time in front of her home fans, but also a special ceremony before the match by another First Nations legend of Australian sport.

And her Matildas team-mates have honoured her in their own little way, all of them wearing "Williams 1" warm-up shirts before the match.

You can read a bit more Lydia's story in this feature story I wrote her before last year's World Cup, from growing up in the deserts of Kalgoorlie to emerging with Canberra United to travelling the world, only to come right back to where it all started as she tried to reconnect with her country and herself.

Do you have any lasting memories of Lydia Williams? Log in and share them so we can all have a little cry together.

By Samantha Lewis

Before we get down to ....can we get a Sandeye golf update? Was another win secured on the weekend?

- stumcin

Hi Sam! And see you Lids...thank you - go well oh good and faithful servant! Played hard, done well....

- Sandye

Say hello to my mum, everybody, whose round of golf this weekend was sadly cut short after a huge burst of rain just after the 8th hole.

Instead, she's investing all her emotional energy into tonight's match. Let's hope it's a more positive result than her weekend!

By Samantha Lewis

You can watch tonight's match live and free on , or streamed on or .

And if you'd like an alternative source of commentary, my colleague will be calling the match live over on the ABC Listen app!

By Samantha Lewis

If this two-game series was meant to be a final tune-up and confident send-off for the Matildas before the Olympics, Friday's first match apparently didn't get the memo.

The first half was particularly troublesome, with the team struggling to progress the ball through an out-numbered midfield and to create goal-scoring opportunities in central areas.

In fact, they failed to register a single shot for the whole opening 45 minutes: the first time that has happened since the Canada friendly last December where Australia got whacked 5-0.

's starting XI was a big reason for that. He chucked five less regular players onto the field together in order to rest his more senior starters, and the lack of chemistry and understanding between them all was pretty obvious.

and couldn't get their bearings in midfield, and were quite slow and isolated up front, and was drifting around looking lost without her regular anchor-point team-mates nearby.  had a couple runs in behind, but was pretty easily shepherded away to safety.

, recently returned from a spell on the sidelines with injury, also looked a bit rusty at centre-back, while and got bullied off the ball pretty regularly and caught up too high on the counter.

China, on the other hand, were terrific. They had a clear game-plan, they knew the Matildas' weaknesses, and they executed almost perfectly.

The momentum swung back in Australia's favour when the big dogs came on in the 60th minute, but it does make you worry the rotational depth the Matildas have ahead of a tournament that has a very tight turn-around between games, meaning all outfielders will need to be ready and capable of stepping up if/when needed.

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander s as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.

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