Gustavsson on ramping up preparations now stage is set for FIFA WWC
With the CommBank Matildas now aware of their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 opponents, head coach Tony Gustavsson shared his excitement about the preparation ahead.
"I'm really excited, I've been texting with my coaching staff and my analysts already saying, hey, let's start planning, preparing... We really want to get on it now we know who we're facing and we know what the opening game looks like," Gustavsson said of Australia being drawn against the Republic Ireland, Nigeria and Canada.
The CommBank Matildas are set to play the opening match of the tournament in Sydney on July 20 against the Republic of Ireland, who are making their FIFA Women's World Cup Australia/ New Zealand 2023™ debut.
"It's all about the opening game, we want to start the tournament as strong as possible," Gustavsson said. We drew the top-ranked opponent in Pot 2, the third-ranked opponent in Pot 3 and the top-ranked opponent in Pot 4.
"It's a tough draw, but if you look at a bracket, and you look at a tournament, there are no easy games in this tournament, so it's all about knowing who you're facing and preparing the best way possible," he continued.
Gustavsson's aim when taking the helm of the CommBank Matildas was to play as tough a schedule, with as many different teams as possible. He says the outcome of the draw is proof why this strategy has been so important.
"Firstly, I want to thank the Federation for their support in this type of preparation. It's been one of the toughest schedules in the history of this program. In terms of ranking ,in terms of trips abroad, playing European teams, bringing top teams to Australia, all the investment that has been done in almost two years," he said.
"You can see in the draw today, how important that has been, but also how important it will be from now, until the start of the World Cup. We have some work to do there to make sure we do that exactly the way we need to, to prepare the best way possible."
When asked what excites him most about being the head coach of one of the home co-hosting nations, Gustavsson laughed, "How long have you got?"
"First of all, I love this team. I've said that from day one. Everyone knows how much I love this team, both the players and the staff and also the fans," he explained.
"Being on home soil together with the fans in a crossroads moment like this in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I feel so privileged to be a small part of something much bigger than just 90-minutes of football."
With nine months of preparation ahead, the CommBank Matildas are looking to fine-tune their tactics against world-class opponents. One, in particular, is World No.2, Sweden, who they will play next month in Melbourne.
"If you look at what we've done over the last two years, we've targetted a lot of European teams because the statistics from way back are not too positive for us against European teams," Gustavsson explained.
"If we look at our side of the bracket, we have England, Germany and France so the game against Sweden will play a major role in that sense as well."
As for his message for the football-loving public (and those who are yet to be converted), it's simple, be there or miss witnessing history.
"I say to the people out there, buy tickets now, because there are going to be packed out stadiums, everyone is going to be there. It's going to be a moment that you want to talk about a decade from now, to your grandchildren, saying, I was there.
"I can't wait to see these players playing in front of that type of support and that type of vibe, because that's what they thrive under. With the high-octane high pressing, attacking-minded football we play, if we can get carried and supported by the fans the way I know we can, that's going to be very, very, very interesting."