Cortnee Vine withdraws from Pairs Olympic qualifiers making way for Sophie Harding in Uzbekistan matches

Anna Harrington
The Nightly
World Cup hero Cortnee Vine has withdrawn from the Matildas’ qualifiers next month. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
World Cup hero Cortnee Vine has withdrawn from the Matildas’ qualifiers next month. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Women’s World Cup penalty shootout hero Cortnee Vine has withdrawn from the Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers against Uzbekistan for personal reasons.

Sydney FC speedster Vine, who famously buried the winning spot-kick in Australia’s marathon quarter-final victory over France, has been replaced by in- form Western Sydney striker Sophie Harding.

Vine (26 caps, three goals), joins injured skipper Sam Kerr (ACL) in missing the two matches.

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If Australia win the two-legged play-off against Uzbekistan, they will guarantee qualification for the Paris Olympics.

Wanderers forward Harding, 24, has received her first call-up for the games in Tashkent on February 24 and Melbourne four days later after scoring nine goals and notching two assists in 15 games.

BATHURST, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 09: Sophie Harding of the Wanderers scores a goal during the A-League Women round 16 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets at Carrington Park, on February 09, 2024, in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Sophie Harding is thrilled at her Matildas call-up. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images) Credit: Mark Evans/Getty Images

Harding sits second only to Michelle Heyman (13 goals) in the A-League Women golden boot race.

“I received a call actually on a 10-hour shift last night from the assistant coach of the Matildas that I’d been called up for the camp in Dubai,” Harding told Western Sydney’s media.

“I was very overwhelmed. I just burst out laughing because I was so shocked in a way and then I got a bit teary and then rang my mum and Robbie (Wanderers coach Robbie Hooker) and they were all so excited.

“It’s a super-important moment for me. It’s obviously extremely exciting, something I’ve dreamt about for a long time

“Sometimes it didn’t really seem achievable so this season’s been super important in playing a part in that and I’m really excited to just take in as much knowledge as I can and learn as much as I can.

“They’re some of the best female players in the world so just playing around them in itself is a privilege.”

The Matildas will train in Dubai from February 19 to 23 before heading to Tashkent.

Melbourne City sensation Daniela Galic, 17, will head into the lead-up camp in Dubai as a train-on player after scoring five goals and notching four assists this season.

Galic will then link up with the Young Matildas for the U23 Women’s Asian Cup, also in Uzbekistan.

2023 Year In Review - Sport BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: Australia players celebrate as Eve Perisset of France misses her team's fifth penalty in the penalty shoot out during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Quarter Final match between Australia and France at Brisbane Stadium on August 12, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images )
The Matildas celebrate the historic quarterfinal win over France at Brisbane Stadium in August last year.(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images ) Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Sporting hero Cortnee Vine thrilled the nation with her game-winning World Cup penalty goal... what's in store for this rising star?

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