Kieran Yap reviews The Matildas performance in their game with Sweden yesterday and sees continued green shoots ahead of their final group game with the USA.
The Matildas team who took on Sweden yesterday is pictured above via Football Australia.
Five weeks ago, Australia drew 0-0 with Sweden in an encouraging if not inspiring performance.
The Matildas defended resolutely, Tegan Micah performed admirably on her debut and even though the hosts had not named their full Olympic line-up, they were denied an expected win.
This week Australia sits on the verge of the knockout stages of Tokyo 2020. Their destiny is in their own hands. If they win against the USA, they are through to the Quarter-Finals.
Importantly, they went toe to toe and almost goal for goal with the full strength Swedish side in a competitive match.
A missed penalty could have changed the game, Sam Kerr stepped up with the game at 3-2 and hit her shot on target but an athletic effort by Hedvig Lindahl was enough to deny her.
But beyond the result, the performance was a mix of what fans have become accustomed to and what Gustavsson is trying to instill.
Australia attacked with purpose, mixing individual skill and team interplay. the final pass was sometimes missing but the same could be said of Sweden, they just found it twice more.
The Matildas looked aggressive, they fought hard until the end and 3-4 would have been more reflective of the game after an earlier penalty was denied and Kerr again missed a one-on-one chance late on.
The midfield sat deep for most of the game in support of the defence and only got caught out when surging for an equaliser late in the piece.
The rotating back three still looked like a work in progress and gaps on the left were exploited by the brilliant Sofia Jakobsson but there is progress.
For the first hour against the Gold Medal favourite the margins were small. Two of Sweden’s goals came from counter-attacks which is not how this game was supposed to go.
Australia stands a chance against the USA. Many of our players have played with success in the American leagues and left for new challenges, but they know they can match them.
Gustavsson is a former assistant of the USWNT and if anybody knows the key to defeating them it is him.
From the 5-0 loss to the Netherlands and the 0-0 draw to Sweden the Matildas have found their mojo again.
They are improving and only Tuesday will tell us if they have improved enough in time.
There is no fun in being anything else but excited.