Past Matildas captain Julie Dolan in awe of the game's progression

Jordan Warren
Updated August 11 2023 - 12:58pm, first published 11:54am
FIFA Women's World Cup 2023: Australia v Denmark highlights from the Round of 16 match on August 7, 2023 at Stadium Australia, Sydney. Brought to you by Optus Sport.

"It's like having put 20 cents away in the savings account in the 70s and we're looking at it today and it's a million bucks."

That is what it is like for pioneering Matildas like former captain Julie Dolan seeing the form of the current team as they prepare to face France in the FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday in Brisbane.

Matildas of the past like Dolan paved the way for the current crop of players to be able to have ample opportunity to play for some of the biggest clubs on the planet as well as being able to be a serious World Cup contender.

Speaking ahead of the game against France, Dolan - who is held in such high regard in the Australian football community with the A-League Women's player of the year award named after her - said the World Cup had showcased to people how big the game actually is.

"The transformation, the growth is difficult to believe, it's quite surreal and I was standing out there the other night [against Denmark] with 75,000 people and I just walked out and I thought 'oh my goodness'," Dolan said.

Julie Dolan - former Matildas captain - said she was in awe during the Denmark round of 16 win. Picture - Getty Images
Julie Dolan - former Matildas captain - said she was in awe during the Denmark round of 16 win. Picture - Getty Images

"It's everything that we wanted to see and we dreamed of and it's finally here. It's just drinking it in and people now aware of what a great product this women's football is."

Whilst confident the Matildas could go all the way in the Cup, Dolan said that the France game would be the toughest yet despite a victory against the upcoming opponents in Melbourne just days before the opener against Ireland last month.

"This will be the biggest test," she said.

"If anyone is thinking 'we already beat them in the friendly' then they need to think again. France have some very tall, very fast players. They're highly skilled. Technically probably superior [to Australia] across the park. If we're not on top of that then we might find ourselves on the other end of a caning.

"For me the captain Wendie Renard is six-foot-two and you get her in the box and she will be at every set piece. If we're not competing with her even just to put her off then we will be in trouble. We saw in their last game [4-0 win against Morocco] they were banging their headers in. If we're not on top of all that then they might sneak goals there."

Dolan added the Matildas need to make a quick start, not take time to get into the game like what happened in the round of 16 against Denmark.

"The French will not be holding back. My concern with the Matildas like every team I guess is that at the beginning of the match it is a bit of a finding out period. Sort of sit back and try and get settled. If they're going to be losing possession in their back third or even in their half France are going to punish us," she added.

"We can't afford to be losing balls in our half and we have been doing that a bit."

The Matildas should be boosted for the match in Brisbane with potentially more minutes in captain Sam Kerr's legs after returning late against Denmark from the calf injury that kept her out of the group stage.

It is likely she will come off the bench at some point in the second half.

The winner of the Matildas v France match will face the victor of the England v Columbia game played in Sydney straight after the Australia game.

Click on the image to see the latest FIFA Women's World Cup highlights and coverage.
Click on the image to see the latest FIFA Women's World Cup highlights and coverage.
Jordan Warren

Jordan Warren

Sports Journalist

Illawarra Mercury sports journalist. Feel free to get in touch

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