Ben Gilby hears from Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson as he unveils his squad for this months’ two tough matches as well as from newly called-up Sydney FC stars Taylor Ray and Mackenzie Hawkesby (13/6/22).
Above: Tony Gustavsson, who has wrung the changes ahead of this month’s challenges against Spain and Portugal. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.
Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson has called up a host of fresh faces to the 24-player squad to take on Spain and Portugal in the June FIFA International Window.
Australia will take on the two Women’s European Championships-bound nations later this month with the opening match against Spain on Saturday, 25 June (local) at Estadio Nuevo Colombino in Huelva. Three days later the Matildas will line up against Portugal on Tuesday, 28 June (local) at the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota in Estoril.
Gustavsson said: “This upcoming camp and international window is a big opportunity for many players in the squad selected. I am excited to see the group in action and witness how we can rise to the challenge as a team and as individuals.”
“Spain and Portugal are quality nations in the final stages of their preparations for one of the biggest trophies in women’s football and they will be a tough challenge in many aspects of the game.”
Gustavsson has chosen a combination of regular national team squad members, a cohort of recalled players, and some first-time senior national team attendees.
The roster includes 14 members of the squad that defeated New Zealand in the April series with several players in strong form. Midfielder Clare Wheeler was recently named the Fortuna Hjørring Player of the Year in a season where the Danish club claimed the Cup title and finished runners-up in the league.
San Diego Wave’s Emily van Egmond has been instrumental in their winning start to their inaugural NWSL season and Swedish-based duo Teagan Micah and Charli Grant assisted league leaders FC Rosengard in claiming the Swedish Cup title last month.
Their fellow Damallsvenskan-based Matilda Courtney Nevin is in outstanding form for Hammarby, scoring three goals, assisting her team to four wins in their past five matches.
Elsewhere in the squad, Larissa Crummer will enter a national team training camp for the first time in four years. It continues the hard-fought return to football for the 26-year-old following a broken leg in 2019 which kept her out of the sport for nearly two years.
Meanwhile, the FIFA window will see goalkeeper Lydia Williams in line to become the first female Australian goalkeeper to reach 100 appearances for Australia.
When it comes to fresh faces, the call-up of both Mackenzie Hawkesby and Taylor Ray, in addition to Princess Ibini, Rachel Lowe, Cortnee Vine see recognition for Sydney FC’s A-League Women season. Also rewarded for a strong season domestically is Adeliade United’s Matilda McNamara. Returning after absences are Angela Beard and Amy Sayer. Uncapped defender Winonah Heatley and Celtic FC’s Jacynta Galabadaarachchi have also received a recall for this window.
Speaking about her call-up, Taylor Ray was overjoyed: “Obviously last time when I was called up for Dubai (the pre-Asian Cup training camp), I got COVID. It was an opportunity that I had been waiting for. So this time, coming off the season Sydney FC had, I’m really pumped.
“I was actually on the way to the movies with friends when I heard the news, so I was really shocked! I went through so many emotions (when I heard I was selected) because of all the different things I’ve been through (two ACL injuries), it really hit home.
“Those two setbacks shaped me into being such a stronger person mentally. The Matildas is something I’ve been wanting to do since I was young in Townsville. It makes me proud of myself and my family. Some of my best mates are going along too having been called up, so what’s better than that?”
Ray’s Sydney FC team-mate Mackenzie Hawkesby echoed those sentiments saying: “I was so shocked to get called-up, I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life. It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.
“As a footballer, you work so hard everyday and for this to happen, I’m so humbled by it. For it to be against Spain and Portugal is amazing. Spain are a top nation and they are getting better and better.
June will see the absence of a host of regular names including Matildas captain Sam Kerr, vice-captain Steph Catley, as well as a number of senior players. Defender Ellie Carpenter will also be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future with the Lyon star sustaining a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
“As we draw closer to the commencement of the 2023 World Cup, all our decision-making is centred around the strongest possible preparation for all players vying to be a part of 23 in 23.”
“Selection for this June squad has been based on a combination of factors but ultimately it has been about individualising player programs with a long-term view. In preparing the specialised plans, we have evaluated where the players currently are and where they will need to be and determined the best course of action for each player.
“For some players, this has meant being a part of these invaluable matches with Spain and Portugal providing a chance to demonstrate how they can make our team stronger. For another cohort, it results in being proactive around reoccurring ailments and re-establishing a fitness baseline without the need to focus on peaking for matches.
“This is a crucial period in our groundwork for next year’s World Cup and there has been a true collaboration between players and staff to ensure we capitalise on the opportunities to position us well for 2023.”
MATILDAS SQUAD | JUNE 2022
|Mackenzie ARNOLD||Goalkeeper||West Ham United||28 (0)|
|Angela BEARD||Back||Fortuna Hjørring||3 (0)|
|Alex CHIDIAC||Midfielder||Racing Louisville||18 (1)|
|Larissa CRUMMER||Forward||Capalaba FC||23 (4)|
|Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI||Forward||Celtic FC||0 (0)|
|Emily GIELNIK||Forward||Aston Villa||52 (11)|
|Katrina GORRY||Midfielder||Vittsjö GIK||80 (15)|
|Charlotte GRANT||Back||FC Rosengård||5 (0)|
|Mackenzie HAWKESBY||Midfielder||Sydney FC||0 (0)|
|Winonah HEATLEY||Back||Sydney Olympic||0 (0)|
|Princess IBINI-ISEI||Forward||APIA Leichhardt||6 (0)|
|Rachel LOWE||Forward||Sydney University||1 (0)|
|Matilda McNAMARA||Back||Adelaide City||0 (0)|
|Teagan MICAH||Goalkeeper||FC Rosengård||9 (0)|
|Courtney NEVIN||Back||Hammarby||10 (0)|
|Clare POLKINGHORNE||Back||Vittsjö GIK||143 (12)|
|Taylor RAY||Midfielder||Sydney Olympic||0 (0)|
|Amy SAYER||Midfielder||Stanford University||4 (0)|
|Remy SIEMSEN||Forward||AIK||4 (0)|
|Emily VAN EGMOND||Midfielder||San Diego Wave||118 (30)|
|Cortnee VINE||Forward||Sydney Olympic||4 (0)|
|Clare WHEELER||Midfielder||Fortuna Hjørring||9 (0)|
|Lydia WILLIAMS||Goalkeeper||Arsenal WFC||99 (0)|
|Tameka YALLOP||Midfielder||West Ham United||105 (12)|