Matildas ready for prime time effort

The Matildas hope to win their World Cup opener with Italy on Sunday night with ex-stars hoping the match makes a splash back home.

MATILDAS team pose before kickoff at Pepper Stadium in Sydney, Australia.
MATILDAS team pose before kickoff at Pepper Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

The Women's World Cup has exploded to life in France, where almost half of the country's televisions were tuned into the opening match.

Les Bleus captured the attention of a nation on Friday night with a 4-0 rout of South Korea to kick off the tournament.

The match was watched by 10.9 million people in France, or over 44 per cent of TVs.

The extraordinary figure more than doubled the previous French record for a women's football match.

Australia begins its campaign in the viewer-friendly timeslot of 9pm (AEST) on Sunday night when the Matildas play Italy.

While the atmosphere in Valenciennes won't be as electric as Paris' Parc du Princes, local broadcasters believe they could break records for an Australian women's football fixture.

That's music to the ears of Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury.

The former skipper went to four World Cups, scoring perhaps the most memorable goal in Australian history in 2007 to take the Matildas out of the group stage for the first time.

She only regrets the lack of impact it made at the time.

"Looking back the biggest disappointment was no one saw it," she said.

"It wasn't televised a great deal. It wasn't broadcast a great deal.

"That's probably the biggest thing that the current Matildas have.

"Imagine how much faster women's football would have grown had kids seen that moment.

"The Sam Kerrs and the Caitlin Foords; imagine how many more we would have had if they saw that goal and that moment.

"Growing up, I didn't even know girls played football. I was probably 12 or 13 before I knew other girls played.

"I had no aspirations to be a Matilda because I didn't know women's football really existed."

In Australia, Optus Sport is streaming the entire tournament, while SBS has the rights to every Matildas match in France, as well as each game from the quarter-finals onwards.

The Telco has made access to Optus Sport free to all school-aged children for the tournament.

Heather Garriock, who like Salisbury is commentating for Optus, called it a "dream come true".

"For young girls that are coming through, it's so special that they can watch and hope to follow in the footsteps of their role models," she said."


AAP