Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson is relishing the chance to play the host nation Japan in an Olympic warmup.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday he praised the speed and technical ability of the Japanese side and described it as another good test for his players.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” said Gustavsson, “but that’s what we want, it’s going to be a very good football game.”
The hosts have recently defeated Ukraine 8-0 and Mexico 5-1
The Matildas arrived in Japan after a run of tough friendly results. However, they have shown improvement, culminating in a cautious but encouraging 0-0 draw against group opponents Sweden last month.
Australia has been placed in a tough group, facing world champions the U.S.A and World Cup semi-finalist’s Sweden yet Gustavsson remains focused on his side.
“We have made an agreement to focus on our performance and what we can control… meaning our own actions on and off the field.
“The one thing you will see with this team is it’s going to be a Matildas team that leaves everything out there… that itself hopefully leads to good results.”
Gustavsson has spoken before about wanting his player to be able to thrive in “pressure cooker” situations. The manager has worked to prepare the players for any on-field scenario but admits it is hard to know how they will respond until the games begin.
Invoking his famous mantra he says the team is constantly striving for improvement.
“We want to get one day better technically, one day better tactically, one day better physically, and one day better mentally.”
“The best way to gain confidence is to feel you are prepared,” said Gustavsson.
“Right now we are much better prepared than we were in the April and June windows…but it’s still a very short time. It’s going to be interesting to see how well prepared we are. You never get the answers until the tournament starts.”
To prepare for his first major tournament as the national team coach, Gustavsson has sought out the most difficult and varied opposition. It has been hard viewing at times for Matildas fans but the new manager believes the pain is necessary.
“If we want to take The Matildas to the next level we need these tough games,” he said.
It does not come much tougher than a warmup against a youthful, in form Japan side on the eve of their own Olympic games.
Australia plays Japan tonight at 8:30 pm AEST
They begin their Olympic campaign against New Zealand on July 21st at 9:30 pm