Australia v New Zealand: Media Conference Wrap

Impetus Ben Gilby was in the post-match media conferences and heard the views of Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and midfielder Emily van Egmond plus New Zealand’s head coach Jitka Klimková and goalkeeper Victoria Esson (8/4/22).

Above: Tony Gustavsson, who saw plenty to be proud about in his Matildas team’s performance today. Photo: Football Australia.

Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson expressed his delight at The Matildas never-say-die effort which saw them score two goals in stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes to seal a 2-1 win over New Zealand in Townsville.

“I am so proud. It is all credit to the players. I was not surprised as I know the players’ belief and mindset. We panicked a bit against Korea in the Asian Cup in the second half, but that wasn’t the case today. It really impressed me that the players were not satisfied to get back to 1-1, they wanted to go out to get the win.”

Highlighting some of the aspects of the game that pleased him most, the Matildas head coach highlighted the quality of his team’s build-up.

“We felt we could do more in our build-up play after the Asian Cup to bring it back to what we saw at the Brazil game. Then think about the first half against the USA, we were losing, but the ability in build-up was good.”

“Also, Mini (Katrina Gorry) came in and gave us a great match and some great combination play. That’s another step in the right direction. I would have loved to have had Mini in the Asian Cup. I want to use her as a six due to her positioning and passing which is phenomenal. She can activate our central diamond and that’s great. But her defensive activity was brilliant. Her duels with Hannah Wilkinson were world-class.

“This was her first step back. We need to expose her now to top-ranked opposition where the pressure on us is high for 90 minutes.”

Gustavsson had pointed out in his pre-game media conference yesterday that he expected to see a lot of substitutions made during the game as a result of the late arrival of many of his players into camp from Europe. In the end, apart from Caitlin Foord coming on at the start of the second half, only two further changes were made with Tameka Yallop coming on with 12 minutes left and Cortnee Vine in stoppage time.

“We had multiple pre-planned subs planned for tonight with the jet-lag and well-being angle,” the Matildas head coach admitted, “but the live stats coming in showing the players physical output had our numbers much lower than normal. A player recommended to play just 60 minutes had figures way lower than expected, so the Sports Science people gave me the OK to keep them on.

“As a result of that, when we used the subs tonight, I wanted to do it tactically. Normally we have two days between games, now we have three days to recover so many of the players who played today would be ready to play again on Tuesday. We had a year of experimentation and looked at many players, now we need to narrow things down. It’s a balance to make.

“Sam (Kerr) had a limitation on her in terms of how long she would play, but the way we dominated, her stats meant she could stay on. She was tired, but always finds a way to find that extra edge. There is no coincidence that she is who she is and the fact that she is our captain.

“It says a lot about our players that some only arrived on Wednesday, but they are so determined to be here, part of the team, and put on the performance they did tonight.”

Above: Emily van Egmond pictured in action at the Asian Cup in January. Photo: Football Australia.

Australia midfielder Emily van Egmond who scored her country’s equalizing goal two minutes into stoppage time revealed that she never had any doubts that they would comeback.

“It shows the belief we have in the team. You can have 90% of the ball but not win, that’s the game, it’s about how you work and your mindset.”

The former West Ham United player highlighted the importance of Katrina Gorry in Australia’s performance today.

“It’s so good to have Mini back. She contributed immensely tonight. Playing with her is super fun. Having Mini there at six means I can play further forward. She was dominant in that six role. That allowed the rest of us to push on up-front.”

Above: Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková. Photo: NZ Football.

New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimková felt nothing but pride in her team’s performance.

“We are still in that stage where our team is getting together. If we are going to play the way we played today, we all will be very proud of each other. I’m happy about the process, not about the result. For 90+2 minutes it was an unbelievable performance and I was a very proud coach.

“We will look at the whole game and how we performed and fought to the end. That is what we will take from the game. We have learned a lesson to keep fighting until the end. It is an unbelievable journey from our team. We are very proud.

“We know we were playing at the home of the Matildas. Our goal was not beating them, but how we play. We played to win and that is how we want to play in the future.”

Klimková was full of praise for her goalkeeper Victoria Esson who produced a number of outstanding saves throughout the game. “She is a quality keeper. She always focuses and when she has a chance she takes it like she did today. She kept us in the game.”

The Football Ferns head coach revealed the latest news about the knee injury that Tottenham Hotspur’s Ria Purcival suffered in the first half. “Ria will be assessed and scanned tomorrow morning. We need to wait until the result and will inform everyone then. Fingers crossed it won’t be a long-term injury.”

Above: Victoria Esson, who had a superb game for the Football Ferns. Photo: Hanne Davis/stuff.co.nz

Goalkeeper Victoria Esson reflected on a bitter-sweet night for her. “It is gut-wrenching losing how we did. In saying that I’m proud of the team as at times we had to ride out a storm and we scored a great goal. Our defending was phenomenal and there were bodies on the line.”

“I wasn’t concerned by all the shots coming down on me as I knew the game would turn in our favour at some point.”

For Impetus’ match report of Australia v New Zealand, click: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/04/08/never-say-die-matildas-take-it-at-the-death/

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