With Tony Gustavsson’s announcement of the Matildas Olympics squad drawing nearer, there’s one position we really need to talk about.
There have been question marks over the form of Lydia Williams, with an injury hampered her first season at Arsenal. While Mackenzie Arnold has been a formidable deputy, she’s struggled to translate her solid club form to the international stage.
Then came Teagan Micah’s performance against Sweden. The debutant didn’t step a foot wrong.
Goalkeepers are a lot like a good sports bra or good boots, for those who aren’t sports bra inclined.
The measure of their worth isn’t based on the pure flash and bedazzle. That’s great, but at the end of the day the function is what is priority. A good sports bra will be with you through all the tough workouts, sweat, pain and hard yakka. Good boots too will put in the hard yakka, standing strong in conditions that would see other shoes wilter.
A good goalkeeper worth their salt might have the shine of stunning shot stopping, but it’s the organisation, footwork and knowing when to sweep up messy long balls that matter in most instances. Organise your defence properly, have your footwork and positioning correct and be committed when staying or leaving your line, those qualities often prevent the need for the undeniably beautiful saves that fill the highlight reel.
For anyone who has had that amazing sports bra or trustworthy pair of boots **cough blunnies cough**, you would know how difficult it is when it becomes time to part ways for a newer version. There’s the denial, the memories and often the pure nuisance of trying to find a replacement.
This is no easy time.
It’s not like replacing any old bra or shoe. The replacement needs to be up to the task and quickly, otherwise there will be tears, tantrums and frustration.
But there comes a time when a decision needs to be made for the better. When the support is worn out and parts begin to break.
Replacing a goalkeeper is along the same lines.
Goalkeepers aren’t like outfield players, they’re not easily substituted. The position often screams for consistency, with the tempo of the game and security of the last line important to the stability of a side.
But there comes a time to take the leap. Where perhaps a couple performances line up and suggest there’s a better option than old faithful.
That time is arriving fast for the Matildas, and the bold would say it has arrived and we must catch the train before it leaves the station for the Olympics.
I’m on the bold side.
Williams has been our rock since taking over from Melissa Barbieri. Arnold has been the heir apparent.
But does the status quo still fly this time round?
Teagan Micah may not have that worn in feel that makes a comfortable sports bra or boot, but all the pieces are there to suggest the gamble of starting her would be worth the risk.
Only two goalkeepers can make the list. Experience, the heir apparent and the new kid on the block are all vying for a ticket to Tokyo.
I don’t ordinarily like my chances at any casino, but I’d be making one for the Olympics.