Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson is happy for his side’s Olympics medal hopes to be written off, vowing that outside noise would not derail Australia’s Tokyo Games campaign.
The Matildas continue their Olympics preparations with a friendly against Japan at Sanga Stadium in Kyoto on Wednesday night.
Gustavsson is still chasing his first win as Matildas coach.
In the four matches under the Swedish mentor, the Matildas have lost to Germany (5-2), the Netherlands (5-0) and Denmark (3-2), and drawn 0-0 with Sweden.
It’s hardly a record that inspires confidence heading into the Olympics.
And considering Australia’s group includes the USA, the world’s number one ranked team, the fifth-ranked Swedes, and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, earning a quarter-final spot even as one of the two best third-place group finishers won’t be easy.
However, Gustavsson said the Matildas were focused on their task and would relish the challenge that awaited them.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has belief in his side. Picture: Joosep Martinson/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“Someone told me that … you were drawn in the toughest group, it’s going to be tough for you to even get out of the group this Olympics, especially with the circumstances you had leading into the tournament with the lack of time together,” Gustavsson said.
“Someone told me that (when you) look at the rankings in the Olympics among these teams, you shouldn’t be able to make it more than to the quarter-finals.
“All those things for me is for people outside to speculate about.
“We have made an agreement inside the circle that we’re going to focus on our performance and what he can control – control the controllables.”
Those “controllables” include getting the best out captain and star striker Sam Kerr, who hasn’t scored for Australia under Gustavsson.
“It takes every single sone of us to be successful – Sam is one piece of that puzzle,” Gustavsson said.
“We also know that there’s going to be a lot of focus on defending Sam … that means Sam is going to free up space for other players, which then makes Sam important.
“That’s the team attack that we’re looking at.”
Gustavsson said Kerr also deserved praise for her work when the Matildas did not have the ball.
“Sam doesn’t get enough credit for her defending effort. She’s our first defender in our pressing game and one of our best defenders,” he said.
“The way she leads our pressing game is amazing. That means as a captain when she works that hard off the ball, she and I also demand everyone else to follow that lead.”
Source: Read Full Article