by Ben Gilby (21/2/23)
Above: Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson speaking earlier today. Image: Football Australia.
Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson told the media today that he wants his team to experience lifting a trophy tomorrow, and that if they can stay true to their DNA, it is something that will stand them in good stead ahead of future major challenges, starting with a match against England in April.
With The Matildas needing just a draw against Jamaica in Newcastle tomorrow to win the Cup of Nations, confidence is high that Australia can extend their winning run to a seventh consecutive match.
Australia boss Gustavsson highlighted the strong core identity that his team has, and the fact that when all of its facets are at 100%, his side are exceptionally tough to beat.
“There are three things that are in the core of our DNA,” Gustavsson identified. “It’s our pressing game, it’s our pace – not just running, but with the ball, how fast we can play now. The other is set plays. We’ve shown again, scoring twice from set plays in the last game, and again in the match before that.”
The Matildas boss would not be drawn on player availability for tomorrow’s game other than to say that: “There have been some updates about Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy, and we’ll be looking into making final decisions tonight.”
At the present time, Gustavsson is solely focusing on “getting the best plan for the 90 minutes – best starting 11 for the game and best finishing 11. We’ve seen in this tournament that game-changers have a massive influence. Our game changers are a massive part of who we are. If you look at the last six consecutive wins we have, the game changers all played a major part in that.”
Asked what threats he feels Jamaica will pose to Australia tomorrow, the Matildas boss said: “They are very good on one-v-ones both attacking and defensively, and they have world-class pace in the transition game and that’s how they can hurt us.
“When we played them in 2019 (during the World Cup group stage – a match that the Matildas won 4-1), they did that, and we have the biggest respect for them. It was 2-1 in the 70th minute against them.”
With The Matildas having announced a friendly against the Lionesses at Brentford in April, Gustavsson revealed how much long-term planning had gone into finally being able to announce the fixture.
“It’s part of our bigger plan from day one – play bigger European opposition. The stats show that we don’t do too well against European opposition. We also want to play top-ranked opposition. The more type of games we get like that the better. It was a lot of background work to get this going. It was planned two years back.
“We will have played eight of the top ten ranked opposition in the world over the past two years. England are European champions and, right now one of the best teams in the world, if not the best team in the world. It will be a really, really good test to challenge ourselves to see where we are at.”