Before taking the field for her first 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup match, Australian women’s football captain Sam Kerr sat with the passing thought of just how memorable it would be for her to break an impending landmark in India.
Kerr, who had never set foot in the country before, has deep-rooted Indian heritage. Her father Roger, a former Australian Rules Football player, was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) to Anglo-Indian parents who moved to Perth in the late 1960s. The significance, therefore, of becoming Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer on Indian soil wasn’t lost on the 28-year-old.
The Matildas skipper entered the Mumbai Football Arena for the team’s opener against Indonesia one shy of matching Tim Cahill’s record tally of 50, and exited four in front. Kerr struck five goals in Australia’s 18-0 thrashing of Indonesia to wear the crown of Australia’s top scorer.
“I definitely thought about that (breaking the record in India) before the game: how special it would be for my family,” Kerr told reporters after the match. “It’s my first time here in India, so just seeing the culture, looking outside during the drive here, everyone has been so welcoming. I know that there’s a lot of Indians out there who follow me. So it’s special to break the record; a bit more special for me doing it here on Indian soil and in the Asian Cup.”
It took all of nine minutes for Kerr on Friday to notch up her 50th international goal to go level with Cahill. Just two minutes later, she was ahead. “Tim is a legend in Australia. So to be even in the same conversation with him is an amazing honour… And breaking the record is amazing, something I’ll remember forever,” the forward, who was named second in the FIFA best women’s player award this month, said.
Cahill termed Kerr an “inspiration globally”. “Keep breaking records and most importantly enjoy the journey,” he tweeted.
Kerr’s hat-trick inside 30 minutes signaled the intent of the 2010 champions, who ended with an 18-0 scoreline—Australia’s biggest ever victory in the tournament—against their 94th-ranked opponents. In other results, Japan beat Myanmar 5-0 while Philippines edged past Thailand by a solitary goal.