Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard the Australia head coach give his reactions to yesterday’s World Cup draw (23/10/22).
Above: Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson speaking yesterday from Auckland. Image: Football Australia.
Australia will commence their World Cup campaign against the Republic of Ireland on Thursday, 20 July 2023 at Sydney Football Stadium, following the completion of the Official Draw on Saturday evening at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.
The Matildas will then face 11-time African champions Nigeria and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Medalists Canada in the group stages after the three nations were drawn together in Group B.
Head coach Tony Gustavsson joined over 800 attendees to see the 29 qualified nations learn their group fate for next year’s global showcase.
Following the opening day fixture, Australia will then meet Nigeria on Thursday 27th July in Brisbane, and complete the group phase against Canada on Monday 31st July in Melbourne. Kick-off times for the three group stage fixtures will be communicated in the coming days.
Speaking after the draw, Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson said: “Now we know what we’re facing. We know what the opening game looks like. Now, it’s all about preparation.
“If you look at the tournament, there’s no easy games. It’s all about knowing who you’re facing and preparing the best way possible. The type of games (we play over the coming months) is definitely going to be key. That we target the right type of opponents, we have some scheduled already based on what we thought the draw was going to look like.”
Gustavsson knows his side have got some potentially tough opponents and was busy during the draw communicating with his coaching staff. “I was texting them throughout the draw. It’s not the easiest, we have got the top-ranked side from Pot Two (Canada), the third-ranked side in Pot Three (Republic of Ireland), and the top-ranked opponent in Pot Four (Nigeria). It’s now about knowing who you face and preparing as best as possible. Right now, it’s all about the opening game. We want to start the tournament as well as possible.”
One of the positive outcomes of the draw is that the Matildas have faced both Canada and the Republic of Ireland in the recent past, and the Australian head coach pointed to the benefits of playing so many top-ranked sides recently.
“We have had one of the toughest schedules that this group have had in terms of games. All that investment we have done, we can see how important that was now in this draw. We also see how important it will be from now on. The type of games we have between now and the World Cup is also important. We have some already scheduled.”
Gustavsson highlighted his priorities between now and the tournament in terms of preparations by saying: “We need to check some boxes for things we haven’t done yet and need to collaborate with clubs as the players spend most of their time there. Both the clubs and ourselves want the players to be available and fit. Right now, we have a lot of players injured, so we need to get them back on the park.”
He concluded by emphasising the importance of having big, loud support at all Australia’s games: “I say to the people out there – buy the tickets now. It is one of those moments you can talk to your Grandchildren and say ‘I was there.’ High octane, high pressing football that we play, if we can get that carried by the support we will get big energy.”