Italy claim Australia fear factor at Cup

A lost-in-translation moment has provided the Matildas' first-up World Cup opponents Italy with an unintended dash of confidence.

Australian assistant coach ANTE MILICIC looks on during the Australian Socceroos Training Session at the Gloria Football Club in Antalya, Turkey.
Australian assistant coach ANTE MILICIC looks on during the Australian Socceroos Training Session at the Gloria Football Club in Antalya, Turkey. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Italy is claiming Ante Milicic's confession that the Matildas fear them as a sign of their growth on arrival at the Women's World Cup.

The only problem being, Milicic never said it.

A miscommunication between Italian journalists and interpreters at the Women's World Cup may have delivered a psychologist blow ahead of Australia's meeting with the world No.15s.

Journalists shocked Italian captain Sara Gama at the team's press conference in Valenciennes on Saturday when they reported that Milicic and the Matildas were scared of her side.

"Really? Wow," Gama said.

"It means we have worked long and hard and quite well. It's good to hear that the other national teams start to fear us.

"We are aware that we were growing and getting stronger, and now we have shown it."

Coach Milena Bertolini agreed.

"I appreciate hearing the Australian national team say they fear the national team. It means we have grown stronger," she said.

"Australia should fear us and that is good."

Milicic's words appear to have been mangled after he was asked of the Italian team's biggest threats, citing the front two.

"We're expecting a very difficult game," he said,

"You see the quality of (Daniela) Sabatino, of (Ilaria) Mauro as well, two players that I rate very highly," he said.

"Also (Barbara) Bonansea with the right, her forward runs, her speed, the way she dribbles.

"I've seen this quality and I've seen it live ... they're very smart players, very intelligent.

"(They're a) very disciplined, very organised side.

"We fully respect our opposition and we know that we're going to have to be at our best tomorrow to perform and to get a result."

As top seeds, the pressure is on Australia to defeat their opponents, also ranked below Brazil in the group, whereas Italy would be happy to share a point with the Matildas.

Bertolini dismissed the notion of playing for a draw or defensively, saying they would "go in to win, to score".


AAP