From the W-League to the World Cup: how our stars are performing in France

The Matildas are far from alone in flying the W-League flag at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Australia – who have 20 women who turned out in the W-League last season in their 23-player roster – kicked off their campaign with a heartbreaking late defeat to Italy last Sunday evening.

Ante Milicic’s side are joined in France by a host of other top-class internationals who lit up the W-League in 2018/19 – and are looking to do the same on the biggest stage of all.

Here’s your weekly wrap of the non-Australian W-League stars at the 2019 World Cup.

KELLOND-KNIGHT: We 100% believe in what we're trying to achieve
KENNEDY: Keep believing in us 

Rachel Corsie (Scotland)

She was a rock and mentor for Matildas youngsters Ellie Carpenter and Karly Roestbakken at Canberra United in 2018/19, and now Scotland captain Rachel Corsie carries the weight of a nation in her country's appearance on the World Cup stage.

And while Scotland fell 2-1 to neighbours England in their opening Group D fixture, the 29-year-old centre back – who played 90 minutes against the Lionesses – remains central to their hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase.

Next up for the Aberdeen-born Corsie are 2011 world champions Japan on Friday night, with kick off at 11:00pm AEST, before finishing up the group stage against Australia’s 2019 Cup of Nations opponents Argentina on Thursday 20 June (kick off 5:00am AEST).

Rebekah Stott (New Zealand)

Inaugural Melbourne City defender Rebekah Stott could not guide the three-time champions to a fourth straight W-League finals appearance in 2018/19 but she will be aiming to take New Zealand to the knockout phase in France.

The Football Ferns came so close to setting this plan into action by recording against the Netherlands in Tuesday night's Group E opener, only to fall 1-0 to a stoppage-time Jill Roord goal.

Stott, 25, marshalled world-class Dutch attackers Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens impressively and New Zealand had chances to break the deadlock themselves before Roord struck at the death.

The Kiwis – beaten 2-0 by the Matildas in Leichhardt during February’s Cup of Nations – face Canada on Sunday morning at 5:00am AEST, before concluding their group campaign against Cameroon on Friday 21 June (kick off 2:00am AEST).

Refiloe Jane and Rhoda Mulaudzi (South Africa)

Jane and Mulaudzi became the first South Africans to play in the W-League last season, and they took Canberra United by storm.

After a sterling tenure in Australia, the duo moved off to represent their country in its very first World Cup appearance. The reward? An unforgiving Group B containing tournament dark horses China, two-time world champions Germany, and world No.13 Spain.

And Banyana Banyana came close to pulling off what would have been an early contender for shock of the tournament in Sunday’s opening match against Spain.

With Jane starting in midfield, South Africa took a 25th-minute lead through Thembi Kgatlana’s stunner but it all came crashing down late on as Spain scored three time in the space of 19 second-half minutes to win 3-1.

Mulaudzi – who scored four goals for Canberra in 2018/19 – will be baying to get on the pitch in South Africa’s next clash, with China on Friday morning (kick off 5:00am AEST), before they face Germany on Tuesday 18 June (kick off 2:00am AEST).

Maria Jose Rojas (Chile)

Also playing in their first ever World Cup are rapid South American improvers Chile, surprise 3-2 victors over the Matildas in last November’s friendly in Penrith.

Forward Maria Jose Rojas came off the bench in the second half of that clash and the 31-year-old – who played for Canberra United in 2018/19 – also played a role in shooting her side to France after scoring two goals at the 2018 Copa America Femenina, where Chile finished runners up.

In a tactical decision from the coach, Rojas watched on from the bench as Chile made their World Cup bow against Sweden in the early hours of Wednesday morning, losing 2-0.

World No.1 USA await the South Americans next Monday morning at 2:00am (AEST) fresh from their record 13-0 win over Thailand, and Chile play the Southeast Asian minnows themselves on Friday 21 June (kick off 5:00am AEST).