Gustavsson: "We saw the future of the CommBank Matildas"

Post the CommBank Matildas 4-1 victory over the African Champions, head Coach Tony Gustavsson spoke with media about getting a glimpse into the exciting future of the Australian team.

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Gustavsson was asked what it was like offering brace-scorer Cortnee Vine the opportunity to come in and lead the line with several key players unavailable and Sam Kerr starting from the bench due to a short illness.

"As you've seen in this last camp, there's been a lot of challenges for us when it comes to players being unavailable," Gustavsson said.

"We had several players out before the camp started and then when you add Sam to that, it was about seven starters from that GB game [Tokyo 2020 Olympics] not available for this game. It was a huge opportunity for these young ones to get the experience to play an African team who have different tactics.

HIGHLIGHTS: CommBank Matildas defeat African Champions 4-1 at Kingsmeadow
READ: Cortnee Vine on 'Vine Time' and her brace against South Africa

"We have plenty of options [in players]," Gustavsson continued.

"We've had a lot of discussions and as you can see in this roster, we have a lot of nines. Caitlin has played nine for national and been good. You have Gielnik and Crummer, you can play Mary as a false nine, we have a lot of options in the nine, but we felt that Vine had been really good against Spain and then unfortunately, she couldn't play that second game against Canada due to a soft tissue injury.

"This camp, she had been training well and we wanted a different type of nine in this game. We know she always goes for everything, all those loose balls, she has that penetration threat.

"We could open space in front of the backline more so for Mary and Caitlin to navigate in, and it turned out well. I don't think it was a coincidence that Vine scored because she's been looking good in multiple camps, so it was well deserved."

With so many of his squad playing in European leagues, Gustavsson was asked how important it was to play games like this one in Kingsmeadow, where there is much less travel required for the players.

"First of all, I want to say this with all due respect for everyone who knows that we love playing on home soil in Australia, especially in a World Cup year," he said. 

"To get that connection with the fans and do it all together with the football community back home, is important, but from a football preparation standpoint, it's massive that we get these camps in Europe.

"We had five training days now compared to the last camp in Australia, where we had two and a half days. And also we had four players coming in and not playing games this weekend, so they were fresh from Monday and we could play five training sessions straight, which was massive," Gustavsson explained.

"I think you could see that we've been looking for a solid performance over 90 minutes for a long time and this was the most solid performance over time.

"We've seen 50 minutes here, a half here, 30 minutes there, but haven't seen a 90-minute performance until today and I think it definitely has to do with our preparation."

Teagan Micah of Australia reacts during the International Friendly match between CommBank Matildas and South Africa Women at Kingsmeadow on October 08, 2022 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Gustavsson was asked if he thinks that the win against South Africa has relieved internal pressure and external naysayers.

"Maybe, but it might also be one of those situations where, if they had already made up their mind about me or the team, they could argue that South Africa was ranked 54th and show some disrespect to South Africa," he said.

"But we knew we were playing against the African Champions and a team that really challenged the big teams. I think we dominated from minute one to 90 and in that sense, I think it was an impressive performance.

"I also think we saw the future of the CommBank Matildas. Look at all the young guns like Teagan (Micah) and Charli (Grant) Kyra (Cooney-Cross), Mary (Fowler) Cortnee Vine that might have never played against an African team before," Gustavsson continued.

"Having that type of solid performance against them, at least internally, is definitely going to bring even more momentum and I hope that people outside have the right perspective about this type of win."

The CommBank Matildas will take on Denmark on Wednesday, October 12.

Denmark v CommBank Matildas
 Tues, 11 October 2022 (local) / Wed, 12 October (AEDT)
Location: Viborg Stadium, Viborg, Denmark
Kick-Off: 6.00pm (local) / 3.00am (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.