Heyman adamant she can kick up a gear with Matildas

Anna Harrington |

Michelle Heyman scored four in the Matildas’ thrashing of Uzbekistan in their Olympic qualifier.
Michelle Heyman scored four in the Matildas’ thrashing of Uzbekistan in their Olympic qualifier.

Fresh off scoring five goals in two games to steer the Matildas to the Olympics, Michelle Heyman is adamant she can step up against top opposition as she chases a ticket to Paris.

The 35-year-old shone in her first call-up since 2018 and scored four goals in Australia’s 10-0 thumping of Uzbekistan on Wednesday night that sealed a 13-0 aggregate win in the qualifying tie.

Also netting in Saturday’s 3-0 win in Tashkent, Heyman is already hungry to show she has another gear.

“That’s going to be the biggest challenge, to see where I’m at compared to the best,” Heyman said.

“Coming out there, I knew what Uzbekistan could bring and knew exactly what I had to do to be successful.

“I do believe in my ability and know how hard I’ve been pushing myself to get here and I won’t be stopping.

“I’m going to continue to push even harder for Canberra United and just keep working on my fitness, speed and do everything I can do to be one of those 16 outfield players who go to Paris.”

Heyman has had the unenviable task of stepping into Sam Kerr’s shoes, with the superstar captain sidelined with an ACL tear.

“We’re very similar in certain ways, but I play my own game as well and I think I can bring some things that are quite different to what Sam brings as well,” she said.

Heyman has silenced plenty of doubters with her performances and insisted she wasn’t done yet.

“It’s been a very emotional roller coaster. I’ve been pushing so hard to try and get back into this squad,” she said. 

“And as soon as I got the email to say that ‘you’re back in’, I’m not letting it go. 

“A lot of people told me that I couldn’t do it and ‘you’re too old.’  

“So it’s really nice to be able to show people that it doesn’t matter how old you are. You can just get out there if you love the game and you push yourself you can achieve anything.”

Gustavsson, who nodded as the striker referenced her age, pointed to Heyman’s connection and “chemistry” with close friend Katrina Gorry as something in her favour.

But he noted he needed to see her step up in more games, starting with the April 10 friendly against Mexico in Texas.

“If you look at Heyman’s finishing here, that is not just because the opposition is what it is. That’s because she is such a good finisher – that technique to finish,” Gustavsson said. 

“Can she bring the pressing intensity and the game on the field when you have less time and space? That’s the question mark for her. 

“And that’s why I’m so happy with the Mexico game and also hopefully some really quality games in June to prep. 

“Those camps are going to be used as development camps and go back to that process again and get one day better.”

AAP