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Sam Kerr selected captain of Australian women’s soccer team

February 27, 2019
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FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo, Australia's Sam Kerr, right, celebrates after her team scores against Brazil in the first half of a Tournament of Nations soccer match in Kansas City, Kan. USA. Kerr has been named captain of the women's national soccer, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as they prepared for Thursday's first match against New Zealand in the four-team Cup of Nations tournament. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)
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FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo, Australia's Sam Kerr, right, celebrates after her team scores against Brazil in the first half of a Tournament of Nations soccer match in Kansas City, Kan. USA. Kerr has been named captain of the women's national soccer, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as they prepared for Thursday's first match against New Zealand in the four-team Cup of Nations tournament. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — High-scoring forward Sam Kerr has been selected as captain of the Australian women’s soccer team by new coach Ante Milicic.

Milicic, who took over as head coach after Alen Stajcic was fired under controversial circumstances last month, made the announcement Wednesday as the Matildas prepared for their first match against New Zealand in Sydney in the four-team Cup of Nations tournament.

Kerr, the Perth Glory captain in Australia’s W-League and who also plays for Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League, said she was surprised to be taking over from former co-captains Clare Polkinghorne and Lisa De Vanna.

“It’s a massive honor,” the 25-year-old Kerr said. Milicic “speaks in such a passionate way, it’s quite uplifting ... it had me quite emotional when he asked me.”

Milicic said Kerr was a leader and the ideal pick ahead of the Women’s World Cup in France starting in June.

“Seeing her the last three or four days in camp, it really confirmed my thoughts,” he said. “She’s fearless ... she’s ready at this moment to take this opportunity.”

Kerr has scored 27 goals in 72 matches for Australia since 2009. She scored 16 goals for Chicago last season to lead the NWSL in goal-scoring for the second consecutive season and is the league’s all-time leading scorer.

The Cup of Nations, which also includes Argentina and South Korea, is a warm-up tournament for the World Cup.

Argentina and South Korea meet ahead of the Australia-New Zealand match on Thursday. All four teams play again in Brisbane on Sunday and in Melbourne on March 6.

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FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo, Australia's Sam Kerr, right, celebrates after her team scores against Brazil in the first half of a Tournament of Nations soccer match in Kansas City, Kan. USA. Kerr has been named captain of the women's national soccer, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as they prepared for Thursday's first match against New Zealand in the four-team Cup of Nations tournament. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)