Sam Kerr broke Tim Cahill’s Australia all-time scoring record and then kept scoring during an 18-0 destruction of Indonesia to open the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup on Friday in Mumbai. Kerr finished with five goals to move to 54 strikes for the Matildas, four more than Cahill.
Kerr scored in the ninth, 11th, 26th, 36th and 54th minutes to reach 54 career international goals in 105 matches, better than a goal every other game. The 28-year-old broke Cahill’s record in three fewer matches. The former Millwall, Everton and New York Red Bulls icon scored 50 goals for the Socceroos from 2004-2018 and congratulated Kerr on Twitter after the match.
Congratulations @samkerr1 on this amazing achievement. You are an inspiration globally and I'm one of your biggest supporters and always here for you on and off the park. Keep breaking records and most importantly enjoy the journey. @FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/WNAlxI6bW3— Tim Cahill AO (@Tim_Cahill) January 21, 2022
“Obviously Tim is a legend in Australia so to be in the same conversation as him is an amazing honor,” Kerr told reporters after the match. “But any time I score for my country, it’s an amazing honor. I didn’t have many so I don’t take any goal for granted. Breaking the record is amazing and it’s something I will remember forever.”
Kerr isn’t quite on track to surpass Christine Sinclair’s all-time international goal scoring record (the Canadian has 188 in 308 matches and is still going), but a few more performances like Friday’s could change that.
Kerr has been playing at Women’s Asian Cups since Tom Sermanni added her to the squad at the age of 16 at the 2010 tournament; she scored two goals to help Australia to its first title in the competition. She didn’t play at the 2014 Women’s Asian Cup but had three goals in 2018 as Australia fell to Japan in the final for a second straight tournament.
This Women’s Asian Cup, played in India, is a little extra special to Kerr, whose father was born in Kolkata, India.
“I definitely thought about that before the game about how special it will be for my family; it’s my first time playing here in India,” Kerr said. “It’s special to break the record and a bit more special doing it here and in the Asian Cup, which is a really important tournament to me.”
Australia took 42 shots, 25 of which were on target as 17-year-old goalkeeper Fani Supriyanto made seven saves. Indonesia managed three shots, one on target.
Sadly, there will always be detractors when it comes to women’s sports, and there were plenty of wannabe critics on social media condemning the Matildas for scoring so much, as was the case when the U.S. beat Thailand 13-0 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup or when England beat Latvia 20-0 in World Cup qualifying in November.
Kerr and her teammates said they showed reverence to Indonesia by playing their hardest. The Matildas can’t be criticized for celebrating goals too much — Kerr didn’t even pull out any of her trademark flips to celebrate goals.
“I think we’ve shown the ultimate respect to Indonesia today by coming out with our best team,” Kerr said. “We scouted them before the game and knew they had some tricky players, and we weren’t going to take it lightly. This is the Asian Cup and we’re here to get as far as we can in the tournament.”
Australia coach Tony Gustavsson was an assistant coach for the USWNT at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and wasn’t going to apologize for his team’s performance, noting his team didn’t get a lot of time to train together before the tournament.
“I think there are plenty of reasons, one is that it’s an opening game and tournament and it’s very important to set the tone for a team to get off on a good start,” Gustavsson said. “I’ve been in a similar situation before as a coach going into a tournament against a lower-ranked team and know how important is to treat that team with respect, but also show respect to our values and our standards.”
"I think we've shown the ultimate respect to Indonesia today by coming out with our best team,"@samkerr1 and Tony Gustavsson react to last night's @afcasiancup opener against Indonesia. #WeAreMatildas https://t.co/ShQvRgmqyg— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) January 21, 2022
It took the Matildas eight minutes to find the opener, scored of course by Kerr, who was played in by Emily van Egmond. The strike gave Kerr 50 goals for Australia, equaling Cahill’s record on the men’s side. Kerr was just getting started, adding her second almost immediately after the restart as Indonesia’s offside trap completely failed.
Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler made it 4-0 by the 17th minute, Hayley Raso scored the first of her two goals in the 24th and moments later Kerr made it 6-0 from the spot. Ellie Carpenter struck the first of her brace in the 34th, followed by another Kerr goal two minutes later. Van Egmond completed the first-half scoring by converting from the spot to make it 9-0.
Despite Gustavsson making four changes to start the second half, the Matildas kept scoring at will. Van Egmond added three more goals after the break to finish with four for the day, Kyah Simon scored a brace off the bench and Aivi Luik scored her first national team goal at the age of 36. Kerr was taken off in the 69th minute.
Here are all 18 goals.
Australia vs. Indonesia Highlights (2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup)
Australia will take on the Philippines on Monday before closing out group play against Thailand on Thursday. The top two finishers in each of the three four-team groups advance to the quarterfinals, along with two third-place teams. With three points and a plus-18 goal difference, it’s hard to imagine the Matildas not moving on, but Kerr doesn’t plan to let up anytime soon.
“I feel like this decade is the turning point in Australian women’s football,” Kerr said. “I hope that in 50 years’ time, people look back on this time and this team.
“I want to have a legacy. I want this team to leave a legacy. We want this to be the time in where the Matildas and me as a player changed the way football is seen and the way that women’s football is seen.”