Ante Milicic has some under fire following the Matildas opening loss.
Ante Milicic has some under fire following the Matildas opening loss.

Milicic: We’ll do things the ‘Aussie’ way

ANTE Milicic calls it "the Australian way". Others might say it's just plain difficult.

But if the they have to get gritty to get out of the group, the Matildas are up for the fight.

Australia's nightmare start, an upset 2-1 loss to world No.15 Italy, has left them with everything to do in France just to qualify for the knockout stage.

With zero points and avoiding bottom of Group C only on goal difference, they must take points from the final two games against Brazil on Thursday and Jamaica next week to ensure their campaign does not end at the opening stage for the first time since 2003.

Captain Sam Kerr declared Brazil a must-win game, while Milicic was philosophical about the predicament.

"We quickly just need to learn from the mistakes and pick ourselves up, and really understand that we have the potential to get through to the next stage," he said.

"It's just now that we have decided to go the long way about it, the hard way about it. And you know what, maybe that's just the Australian way.

"So we will stare it straight in the eyes and we will go for it."

The Matildas' defensive flaws were exposed by Italy in the opening game. Picture: Getty Images
The Matildas' defensive flaws were exposed by Italy in the opening game. Picture: Getty Images

The Matildas have headed south to Montpellier to face Brazil, who are top of Group C after thrashing Jamaica 3-0.

World No.10 Brazil, at least, are a known entity.

Four times the two teams have met since Australia's 2016 Rio Olympics quarter-final loss on penalties. The Matildas have scored a combined 14 goals across those encounters and conceded only four.

"They've got probably one of the best players - or the best player - to ever play (in Marta)," said Kerr, who scored her maiden World Cup goal against Italy.

"They've got threats all over. We (play) against them in the NWSL a lot, so we know them and we've played them so many times over the last few years.

"It's a must-win game for us now, so it's going to be a big one.

"We've still got two more games to get out of the group. We still feel really confident. We lost our last first game at the last World Cup."

Sam Kerr rues a missed opportunity. Picture: Getty
Sam Kerr rues a missed opportunity. Picture: Getty

Kerr's belief is backed by history.

In Australia's six previous World Cups, the Matildas have just one opening win yet have reached the quarter-finals three times.

In 2015, they were soundly beaten by eventual winners USA 3-1, before bouncing back to defeat Nigeria 2-0 in their next match and recording a first knockout-stage win in the expanded tournament.

"When I was doing my ice bath I was thinking about all the games I've played at a World Cup," Lisa De Vanna said.

"I think besides Ghana we've lost our first games. But you want to finish on top of your group. It's an easier route to what we want to do.

"We just have to dig deep and figure out how we can execute our game plan against Brazil."

News Corp Australia

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