Australia's Hayley Raso heads the ball with USA's Megan Rapinoe during the 2018 Tournament of Nations at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on July 29, 2018 in East Hartford, Connecticut. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY
Australia's Hayley Raso heads the ball with USA's Megan Rapinoe during the 2018 Tournament of Nations at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on July 29, 2018 in East Hartford, Connecticut. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Raso: Stajcic furore won’t break us

Having overcome her own adversity to keep her World Cup dream alive, Brisbane Roar star Hayley Raso is adamant the Matildas can conquer the turmoil surrounding the shock sacking of coach Alen Stajcic to deliver at France 2019.

Sidelined for five months after breaking her back while playing for American club Portland Thorns, attacker Raso made her long awaited comeback last Saturday night in the Roar's 3-1 loss to Sydney FC at Richlands.

"Everything went well ¬ a lot better than I expected," Raso told News Corp ahead of the Roar's clash against Canberra United at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

 

Ironically, the Sydney team's goalkeeper was Audrey Bledsoe, the American custodian who Raso collided with in August when she injured her back while playing for the Thorns in a WNSL match against Washington Spirit.

"It made it a little bit extra emotional for me on the weekend knowing that I was going out there against the same keeper that I got injured against," Raso said.

"But once I got out there and got into the groove of things, I felt a lot better and it was nice to hear from her after the game."

The Brisbane-Sydney match was played only hours after Stajcic's controversial axing as Matildas coach.

It was a decision that left Raso devastated.

"I am completely shocked and disappointed that Staj won't be coaching our team anymore, especially leading up to this World Cup. I can't thank him enough for what he's done for me, the Matildas and women's soccer in Australia," Raso tweeted earlier this week.

Stajcic was dumped in shocking fashion last week. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.
Stajcic was dumped in shocking fashion last week. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.

Raso was reluctant to further address Stajcic's departure when asked, but was adamant it would not derail the Matildas' chances of World Cup success.

"It's been a disruption and it's been a difficult few days, but nothing's changed in terms of our ultimate goal - to win the World Cup," she said.

Australia's World Cup preparations will step up a notch - under a new coach - at the four-team Cup of Nations tournament from February 28 to March 6 in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Joining the Matildas in the round-robin event are New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina.

"We're pushing forward. We have a good group of players and we're going to prepare with the Cup of Nations in the next couple of months," Raso said.

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News Corp Australia


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