Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has promised his team will be adventurous and attack against Sweden despite the likelihood that Australia’s defensive shortcomings will be exposed by the world’s second-best women’s team.
The Matildas’ preparations for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup continue on Saturday at AAMI Park against the Swedes, who trail only the United States in the world rankings.
So it promises to be another tough afternoon for the Matildas, who have largely failed to inspire Gustavsson, apart from a fourth-place finish at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, since his appointment in 2020.
Goal leakage has been a big problem under Gustavsson, and that could very well continue against the Swedes.
However, it is a gamble that Gustavsson is once again willing to take, believing his side have the ability to overcome the Scandinavian nation.
“No matter the score, we will look to have a very good performance,” said Gustavsson,
“When we go out, we have to be true to who we are. We don’t care if it’s the top-ranked team or the second-ranked team, we’re going to play the way we do. We are going to have an attack mentality.
“We all (they say) need to keep a clean sheet; no, we need to score more goals than the opponents. That is what we are.
“We are a pressing team, we are an attacking team, that is never going to change.
“Can we do that against a higher ranked team? Or are we going to score three goals? Or if we do, we need to score four, that’s what we’re interested in.
“It’s the big test. Where are we against a higher ranked team?
Gustavsson admitted he was concerned and unhappy with his team’s slow training session on Thursday, but much more pleased with Friday’s effort in the training paddock.
Such was the intensity of Friday’s session that two players, whose identity Gustavsson did not want to reveal, are in doubt for the match.
However, one absentee is defender Alanna Kennedy (shoulder).
The passion shown in training is perhaps an indication of the competition for places in Australia’s top 11.
“I told them (the players) that we have said that we are going to reduce and have a little more continuity, that does not mean that the places are guaranteed,” Gustavsson said.
“I went up to the team and said, ‘You know what? Now it’s up to you to show me if you want to be part of the World Cup roster, but also if you want to be a starter or a game changer (substitute)’.
“Now there is competition and I love that.”