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PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 01: Mackenzie Arnold and Samantha Kerr of Australia share a moment with junior mascots during the anthems during the AFC Women's Asian Olympic Qualifier match between Australia and Chinese Taipei at HBF Park at HBF Park on November 01, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

Australia’s senior women’s national team became the first team to release their roster for the Paris 2024 Olympics this week as coach Tony Gustavsson named his 18-player squad for the women’s football event of the tournament.

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Captained by Steph Catley, the team features eight players who will become the first Australian footballers to compete at three Olympic Games.

Vice-captain Emily Van Egmond, Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne and Tameka Yallop will all become three-time Olympians in Paris.

Kyra Cooney-Cross, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Michelle Heyman, Teagan Micah, and Hayley Raso all return for their second Games, while Clare Hunt, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine and Clare Wheeler have been selected to make their Olympic debut.

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The Matildas enter Paris off the back of Australia’s best-ever finish in Olympic football with fourth in Tokyo.

Drawn in the same group with former gold medallists the United States of America (USA) and Germany along with Zambia, the team will open their campaign the day before the Opening ceremony, 25 July, against Germany in Marseille.

The 18 players selected are the largest selection announcement so far for the Australian Olympic Team for Paris, with the team now numbering 134 of an expected 460 team size.

Meanwhile...

Matildas Head Coach Tony Gustavsson and retiring goalkeeper Lydia Williams attended the official post-match press conference after Australia defeated China People's Republic 2-0 in the second match of the ‘Til It’s Done Farewell Series.

Williams walked out through a guard of honour made of teammates, coaches and loved ones pre-match. She was presented with a Booka by tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a visual representation of her journey from Kalgoorlie to the international stage.

She was asked how she was feeling after an emotional final game on home soil.

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“I’ll have to celebrate tonight with the girls and really spend the next little bit with them, and then really soak it all in because it is about the team,” Williams answered.

“It’s about how we performed tonight. It’s about leaving the camp in a really good atmosphere and getting our break leading into what’s going to be a pretty tough next little bit. I’m feeling good, but I’m not there yet.”

The goalkeeper said that she wasn’t aware of the pre-game celebrations – she only knew where to walk, not what was waiting on the other side.

“It was all pretty emotional,” she admitted. “To receive that gift from Evonne [Goolagong Cawley] was just incredible. That was probably the moment that tipped me over emotion-wise.

“That was a cap off to the kid that grew up in the desert, that fell in love with football.”

The 36-year-old has had a tremendous impact on the game, both on and off the field and reflected on that impact post-match.

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