Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson admits similar results to April’s heavy defeats in upcoming friendlies against Denmark and Sweden could damage belief heading into the Olympics.
Australia shipped 10 goals in an underwhelming return to international action against Germany and Holland in Gustavsson’s first matches at the helm of the national team.
While the Swede insists preparation for Tokyo is the overriding motivator for pre-tournament friendlies, more heavy defeats against the Scandinavian nations will be a concern.
“My perspective is preparing for the Olympics, so the result itself for that isolated game is not the most important. But every time we step on the field we want to win,” Gustavsson said.
In the lead up to #DENvAUS, here's a quick guide to our opponents 👀
🇩🇰 v 🇦🇺 11.06.21
🇸🇪 v 🇦🇺 16.06.21#WeAreMatildas
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) June 9, 2021
“That’s just who we are as coaches, as players.
“What can happen if we don’t win – let’s say we get another big knock and another big knock – is that the pressure and the waves of negativity and maybe the lack of belief from people around could affect us going into the Olympics.
“What I said after that Germany game, they didn’t just lose the game, they lost a little bit of identity in terms of being that hard-working team.
“I saw more of that leading into that Holland game and that’s what I want to see going into these two games.”
Aiding Gustavsson’s cause heading into Friday’s game with Denmark is the addition of more than 400 matches of international experience with vice-captain Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Elise Kellond-Knight, Kyah Simon and Tameka Yallop all coming into the squad.
The Westfield @TheMatildas are back in action this June.
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With just 18 players to be picked for Tokyo, Gustavsson said Friday’s game and next Wednesday’s match against Olympic silver medallists Sweden will be make or break for those seeking to be a part of the Games.
“Numbers-wise you have 16 outfield players in the Olympics. You can’t have 10 starters and six subs,” he said.
“You need to have 16 starters. Everyone counts.
“So are you going to see players that I think potentially are going to contribute to the Olympics? Yes.
“Does it mean it’s going to be a starting player or a non-starting player? No, because we’re not going to work that way and prepare that way, especially because we have only two days rest in-between each game at the Olympics.”