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Clare Polkinghorne, Australia kick off 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup vs. Italy

After falling in the quarterfinals in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to eventual runner-up Japan, Australia will look to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a chance to further their international success.

After qualifying for the Women’s World Cup by finishing as the runner-up in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the Matildas were sorted into Group C along with an Italy squad making its first appearance in the Women’s World Cup since 1999, a Brazil squad led by Marta, the all-time leading goal-scorer in the Women’s World Cup, and Jamaica, who are appearing in the Women’s World Cup for the first time.

Australia opens its campaign in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament on June 9 at 6 a.m. CT when they take on Italy at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, France.

Italy qualified for the tournament for the first time in 20 years when they won their group in UEFA qualification last year. The team has remained in good form throughout 2019, finishing as runners-up in the Cyprus Cup on penalty kicks against North Korea. During the tournament, Italy scored fifteen goals while only allowing four.

The squad is led by the forward pairing of Cristiana Girelli and Daniela Sabatino, who will look to add to their combined 49 goals internationally for the Azzurre against Australia as they look to advance out of the group stage for the first time since 1991. Italian captain and defender Sara Gama will solidify the backline for goalkeeper Laura Giuliani and help to continue the combination that helped lead Juventus F.C. Women to a Serie A championship and a league-low six goals allowed.

Australia will look to its defense to prevent Italy from continuing their hot goal-scoring form. Vice-captain Steph Catley will anchor the defense alongside Houston Dash defender Clare Polkinghorne, who has been a fixture on the back line with over 100 international caps. Forward and captain Sam Kerr will attempt to break through the strong Italian backline with the same attacking form that has won her Golden Boot titles in the NWSL in 2017 and 2018, and the W-League in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The match will kick off at 6 am CT. It will be shown on FS1 and Telemundo.