Impetus’ Kris Goman heard from Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson in his Brisbane media conference ahead of tomorrow’s first of two friendlies with Canada (2/9/22).
Above: Tony Gustavsson speaking to the media earlier today. Image: Football Australia.
The Matildas are back in Australia after their northern hemisphere summer break to play reigning Olympic Champions Canada.
With less than a year until the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a very mixed bag of results since taking over means that the pressure is really now on head coach Tony Gustavsson to pull some tricks out the bag and get some consistent runs on the board.
The headline news of today’s media conference though is that Gustavsson has moved to Australia as of last Tuesday and is looking for a home to live in in the run-up to the World Cup. That will be a big change and give him the opportunity to have a good look at and work with the A-League players as well as the established Matildas. There’s been some criticism of Gustavsson living in Sweden so this is proof of the commitment and should quieten some of the dissent. He says it feels fantastic to finally, officially be in Australia.
Adaptable change is what it’s all about as many players from the Olympic team are not available for this series against Canada – tomorrow at least. Obviously, Ellie Carpenter is out and Hayley Raso has not come over for this camp. Kyah Simon is also out with injury and it’s just been reported that Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Mackenzie Arnold, and Tameka Yallop also won’t be available. Cortnee Vine is in doubt but will be assessed tonight for a soft tissue issue. Chloe Logarzo is not quite ready yet. “It’s going to test the investment in the depth of the roster”.
Sam Kerr will be playing and bringing her unique leadership to the matches. Gustavsson believes she’s a winner and says he loves working with her. Despite winning big awards, he reports that she doesn’t get complacent and is never satisfied, and always wants more. She continues to work on her finishing technique and that’s going great.
The Matildas head coach feels that Canada are a great defensive team and also very strong on the break. Australia really felt that in the Olympics, they should have been in the final against Canada and now they have the chance to play that game.
It will be quite a different Canadian team too though as defensive stalwart Olympic champions Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles, and Deanne Rose are all out for these matches. Canada head coach Bev Priestman will be trialing a few newbies herself.
Gustavsson believes his team’s strength currently is with Katrina Gorry who has come back from having her baby and playing the best football of her career. “We want to dominate and penetrate in the middle of the park and Gorry is the final piece of the puzzle in that number six role.”
When asked directly if he thinks we can win the World Cup, Gustavsson described what they are up against. The upcoming year has five FIFA windows giving the team 46 days available together, 10 of those days will be travel days leaving only 36 days. There’ll be 11 games and pre-game sessions leaving only 10 proper training sessions.
“It’s around the corner and every minute counts.” They need to control the controllables and “want to inspire” and “will leave their heart out there.” They are going to be very aggressive and want to concede less goals. But they have to understand the difference between expectations and belief and they believe they can achieve more.
Gustavsson wants to see what he saw against Brazil and what he saw in the first half against USWNT and against NZ. “Things were working there”. He felt that his squad were pressing well, and brilliant in set plays. The challenge now is to see this in longer spurts and keep the tempo high.
The Matildas play Canada on Saturday 3rd September. Kick-off is 2.45pm AEST in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. In Australia, the game will be shown live on Ten Bold and Ten Play. Overseas viewers could view the match on Football Australia’s YouTube channel depending on location. Tickets are still available.