Alanna Kennedy: From Campbelltown Cobras to the Matildas

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She’s born and bred in Campbelltown and at the age of 29 Alanna Kennedy is about to participate in a third Olympic Games as a key member of Australia’s most popular national team, the Matildas.

It’s a remarkable achievement from a footballer who played for Campbelltown Cobras on her way to the top.

Now, Alanna Kennedy is so important to the Matildas defence that coach Tony Gustavsson refers to her as the team’s “quarterback.”

Alanna organises her teammates from the back and sets up attacks with her intelligent distribution.

But it wasn’t always that way. She may have morphed into one of the world’s best defenders, but Alanna says she grew up playing further forward.

“When I was younger, I was always a midfielder,” she said. “That’s something that a lot of people don’t know about me.

“I’m naturally a midfielder – I’m not actually a defender. It’s just something that happened.”

Alanna made her Matildas debut against New Zealand in 2012, and two years later was selected for the Asian Cup finals as a teenager, featuring in three games as Australia finished second to Japan.

She was selected the following year for the Matildas 2015 World Cup squad and participated in all five games for Australia. In the tournament the Matildas beat Brazil in the round of 16 but weren’t able to get past Japan in the quarter finals, losing 1-0.

At her Olympic debut in Rio 2016, Alanna played every minute of Australia’s four Olympic matches. Australia’s quarter-final meeting with hosts Brazil finished nil-all after full-time and was won by Brazil in a penalty shootout (7-6).

She was named to her second consecutive World Cup squad in 2019 and was chosen to start all four games for the Matildas.

Alanna has won W-League Premierships and Championships at Sydney FC, Melbourne City and Perth Glory. In the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 she enjoyed a stint in the United States with the Orlando Pride, before a switch to English Women’s Super League side Tottenham Hotspur.

She later transferred to Manchester City, where she has played alongside Matildas teammate Mary Fowler for the past three years. She signed a two-year contract extension in May 2023, which will see her stay at the Academy Stadium until 2025.

At Tokyo 2020, Alanna and the Matildas made all of Australia proud in putting together a historic achievement.

Their fourth-place finish, which was nearly a podium finish after a 4-3 loss to the USA in the bronze medal game, is the highest ever finish by the Matildas at an Olympic Games.

After overcoming a series of injuries, including a broken shoulder, in the lead-up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Alanna played a key role in defence as the Matildas captured Australia’s imagination with their thrilling run to the semi-finals.

However, after scoring in the match against Nigeria, she was ruled out of the semi-final against England with concussion symptoms stemming from a series of head knocks in the dramatic quarter-final win over France. Alanna’s aerial presence, leadership, aggression and organisation were sorely missed in the 3-1 loss to England.

However, she was back in the team as the Matildas qualified for the Paris Olympics with home and away victories over Uzbekistan in February 2024.

The Matildas will take on Germany, the United States and Zambia in the group stage at the Paris Olympics and Alanna said she is looking forward to the contest.

“I think when you look across all the groups, they’re all hard,” she said.

“The margins are so small in women’s football at the moment, so it’s definitely going to be a test every single game.”

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