Gustavsson: We won’t shy away from “the toughest challenge ever”

Nathan Edwards reports from Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson‘s media conference today ahead of their match with England tomorrow (10/4/23).

Above: Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson believes his side will invoke their renowned Never Say Die spirit tomorrow night against England. Photo: Hannah Parnell for Impetus.

Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson said that it would be a “massive achievement” to beat England in a game that will be “one of the toughest challenges” that Australia “won’t shy away from.”

Gustavsson will see his side face the recently crowned Finalissima Champions tomorrow night at Brentford, in preparation for the World Cup in July and August where the sides could potentially meet in the last sixteen stage.

Australia’s first friendly in this international window ended in a 1-0 defeat to Scotland, but the match against England, who have been undefeated during Sarina Wiegman’s reign, will offer a different test.

“Right now, they’re (England) the number one team to beat,” Gustavsson said.

“They have a 30-game unbeaten streak, and you look at the football they play as well, they play modern football. They have a high intensity, their pressing game is fantastic, and the ball movement is brilliant.

“Not only have they had this streak against low-ranked opposition, but they have also done it against the top-ranked teams and they still have these results and performances.

“It is going to be one of the toughest challenges we have faced as a team, and we will do it away, in England, which will make it tougher, and with other circumstances out of our control.”

Above: Tony Gustavsson offers advice to Mackenzie Arnold during Australia’s game with Scotland on Friday. Photo: Hannah Parnell for Impetus.

Ahead of these friendlies, Gustavsson said his side had over “500 caps missing,” with
Emily van Egmond and Holly McNamara joining that extended injury list.

The Matildas head coach has seen his squad diminish as the days have gone on during the camp but still wants to use this England game to learn about his squad, ahead of them hosting the World Cup, with New Zealand.

He said, “No matter who steps onto the field, we need to stay true and loyal to our identity, whilst testing ourselves.

“We need to see where we are with our play style, we are still going to try and press as aggressively as we always do, but we know it’s going to be a huge challenge.

“We are coming to play our attacking game, we aren’t here just to keep the score down, and let’s try to survive this game, which might cost us but we are going to be true to who we are.”

Australia haven’t faced England since their 1-1 draw in 2018 at Craven Cottage, and it would be Gustavsson’s first experience managing against the Lionesses, and he will relish the test.

“If you go into the game asking the question ‘where are we?’ and ‘where are they?’ then it will be one of the biggest achievements from the players in terms of overachieving.

“I also know what lives inside this team, and that never say die attitude of the Matildas that has been here way before I was here, and we are going to bring that tomorrow. “We are not going to shy away from this, and it is the toughest challenge ever

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