Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson is using the upcoming matches against Denmark and Sweden to identify a full squad of players to impact games.
“We don’t use the word ‘subs’ the Matildas manager said. “We use the word ‘game changers’…. Numbers-wise we have 16 players outfield players in the Olympics. We need to have 16 starters. Every player counts” Gustavsson said.
The Olympics schedule is intense, there are only two-day breaks in between matches in the group stage. Squad size is limited to 18 players in total and time is of the essence.
“It’s been really good preparations so far,” an enthusiastic Gustavsson said.
“We’ve been focusing on getting every on the same page as soon as possible…. Getting everyone to see the same thing.”
The squad has a very different look to the previous matches. Along with returning favourites like Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley, there are a few new faces, including some from the W-League.
Gustavsson made it clear that these players earned their spot.
“I am not a coach that says ‘Hey here is Tony’s Playbook and either the player fits into the playbook or not’. I look at who are the best players, what are their skill sets and how can I build tactics and formations around their core qualities.
“These players that are here from the W-League… it’s based on how they have performed.
I need to see these players in that environment to see if they can take that step from club to international level.”
There were no major surprises in the squad, but the addition of Caitlin Cooper at the age of 33 is an indication that Gustavsson and assistant Mel Andreatta are examining all options available.
“Let’s be passionate about the young future players coming up but also the ones that can extend their career. For me age is not a thing in a national team, you pick the players you think can contribute the most…. I think she deserves it. she had performed really well, she’s been really good on the ball… and she doesn’t hesitate to get a good tackle in.”
Gustavsson is not too concerned about the previous losses to Germany and The Netherlands. But he is aware that performance matters even if results are not so important.
“From my perspective, it’s preparing for The Olympics, so the results itself is not the most important… But every time we step on the field we want to win, that’s just who were are.”
There are tough challenges ahead and with these upcoming friendlies, The Matildas are deliberately seeking to test themselves. Fans and players alike can be assured that the coaches will leave no stone unturned to find the winning formula.
Image Supplied – Matildas