On an evening where Eugenie Le Sommer cemented her status among the world’s best forwards, one of Australia’s brightest young striking talents emerged from the opposite dugout.
15-year-old Mary Fowler cuts quite the contrast from Le Sommer’s talismanic importance for France. The Lyon striker has been banging in the goals for her country for over a decade, and will likely spearhead Les Bleus’ FIFA Women’s World Cup assault next year.
Fowler has been earmarked as one for the future, but her 27-minute second half cameo in Australia’s 2-0 defeat to France this morning showed she’s got the ability to impact the here and now on the international stage.
Football fans around the country have been excited and intrigued by the teenage striker ever since she earned a surprise call up to the Westfield Matildas Tournament of Nations campaign in July.
That saw coach Alen Stajcic hand Fowler a late cameo in Australia’s opening win against Brazil. In doing so, she became the fifth youngest player to feature for the Westfield Matildas – just 12 days behind Sam Kerr, who made her maiden appearance in 2009.
Nearly three months on from her first Westfield Matildas cap, Fowler offered a glimpse at why many consider her to be one of the best striking talents to emerge down under since Kerr herself.
Australia were largely second best against their French opponents this morning, but Fowler’s introduction in the 73rd minute would prompt the Westfield Matildas’ brightest spell of the game.
France were relatively untroubled from a defensive standpoint throughout the contest, but the injection of Fowler’s physicality and speed kept rear-guard trio Griedge Mbock Bathy, Wendie Renard and Julie Debever all on their toes.
Given that both Renard (28) and Dedever (30) are among the most formidable central defenders in the game and have been operating on the highest level for some time, Fowler’s unsettling impact on the French defence goes down as an impressive feat.
The Westfield Matildas hadn’t created a shot on target until Fowler’s effort in the 83rd minute, where she showed a clean pair of heels and intelligence to dart in between the French defence to race onto Emily Gielnik’s clever reverse pass.
France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi smothered Fowler’s effort, but it was the brightest attacking moment to come from Stajcic’s side all game, and very much inspired by his teenage wildcard.
Fowler will have another chance to impress on Wednesday morning when the Westfield Matildas take on England at Craven Cottage.