Matildas Coach Predicts Great Olympic Chances Following 2-0 Victory Against China


Buoyed by a win over China in their final dress rehearsal, Tony Gustavsson is confident the Matildas squad he selects for the Olympics can come home with a medal.

In the Matildas’ final pre-Games hit-out, second-half goals from Clare Wheeler and Hayley Raso earned Tony Gustavsson’s side victory on Monday night in front of 76,798 at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

Crucially for Gustavsson, who is already without Sam Kerr and has concerns over striker Caitilin Foord and midfield ace Katrina Gorry, there appeared to be no pressing injury concerns.

Clare Wheeler (left) celebrates after scoring Australia's opening goal on Monday night

Clare Wheeler (left) celebrates after scoring Australia’s opening goal on Monday night

Hayley Raso (left) followed that up to make it 2-0 and give coach Tony Gustavsson a confidence boost before he names his Olympics squad on Tuesday

Hayley Raso (left) followed that up to make it 2-0 and give coach Tony Gustavsson a confidence boost before he names his Olympics squad on Tuesday

Five athletes in the 23-strong party who helped sealed a 2-0 friendly win over China on Monday night will miss out on a ticket.

Formidable Matildas captain Sam Kerr is already ruled out after she tore her anterior cruciate ligament, while question marks surround striker Caitilin Foord (hamstring) and midfield ace Katrina Gorry (ankle).

Fellow attackers Amy Sawyer and Holly McNamara have suffered ACL tears while Kyah Simon and Chloe Lorgazo are recovering from similar injuries.

Though the injury list may be too long for his liking so close to the Games, Gustavsson remains bullish about the chances for a spot on the podium.

The Matildas have never won an Olympic medal, coming close in the Tokyo Games after losing 4-3 in a battle for bronze against then-world No.1 the US.

‘That’s five (attackers) out in this game and then you add Caitlin Foord. That’s six and we still performed the way we did,’ Gustavsson said.

Gustavsson (pictured left with goalie Lydia Williams) hailed his team's depth after they handily beat China despite missing several stars - and predicted a medal finish in Paris

Gustavsson (pictured left with goalie Lydia Williams) hailed his team’s depth after they handily beat China despite missing several stars – and predicted a medal finish in Paris

‘We need to remember the investment we’ve done for depth and being able to do this with four or five, six attacking options out of selection for today.’

Australia are ranked 12th in the FIFA rankings, but three teams above them failed to qualify.

‘We’re going into that (Olympic) tournament rank nine,’ added the Swede. ‘In terms of ranking, we shouldn’t even make it to the quarter-final but we want more than that.

‘You know this team, they will never make excuses.

‘We’re just going to go there and do what we want to do and that is to try for a medal.’

The Aussies played all over China despite a quiet game from Mary Fowler (pictured) and the absence of injured stars like Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry

The Aussies played all over China despite a quiet game from Mary Fowler (pictured) and the absence of injured stars like Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry 

Goalie Lydia Williams wipes away a tear after wearing the captains' armband and being honoured by Indigenous sporting legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley on Monday night

Goalie Lydia Williams wipes away a tear after wearing the captains’ armband and being honoured by Indigenous sporting legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley on Monday night

China women’s national team coach Ante Milicic, a former Matildas manager, was just as optimistic about Australia’s medal prospects.

‘Of course, they can go all the way,’ Milicic said.

‘They’ve been very close in the past and it will be fitting for particularly this core group of players, this generation to get a medal as a reward for everything they’ve done for the code.

‘The Olympics, it’s different with 18 players and not as many teams so the quality is strong.

‘But there’s definitely a strong core group of players there that now hopefully, can make Australia proud and end up with the medal.’

The Olympics is shaping up to be Gustavsson’s last hurrah with the Matildas, with his contract set to expire at the end of the tournament.

‘I’ve been a bit emotional this camp,’ Gustavsson said.

‘As of right now, this might be my last camp on home soil.

‘What I’ve said to myself, ‘if so, I’m going to embrace and enjoy every single second and every minute of this camp’, which I have.’



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