Matildas confident in coach Gustavsson's plan to peak

The world has witnessed Australian Olympic history as the Matildas progressed to the semi-finals for the first time. The tight-knit team have praised coach Tony Gustavsson for the belief he has instilled in them, trusting his plan that they would peak at the right moment.

"I couldn't speak more highly of Tony. Obviously, when he first came in, we really started from scratch and we didn't have long," defender Steph Catley said of Australia's coach.

"During those times where we were conceding a lot and losing games, he just kept saying we're not peaking for now, we're peaking for the Olympics and he really instills a belief in every single player that the preparation that we've done, is focused on bigger things.

READ: Steph Catley: We finally have the chance to show what we're made of on the biggest stage

"We were never worried, even though there was a lot of outside noise because we always knew that the focus was the Olympics and to be peaking right now and we truly feel that way," she continued.

"All credit has to go to Tony and to the staff for instilling the motivation and the belief within this squad, that the process was happening and there were going to be speed bumps and blocks along the way, but the ultimate goal was to be where we are right now in a position to win a medal at the Olympics."

Tony Gustavsson of Australia talks with a referee during a game between Australia and Sweden at Saitama Stadium on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Skipper Sam Kerr echoed Catley's thoughts, confirming that belief is the greatest tool Gustavsson has brought to the team.

"I think you can see his personality is very upbeat, but the biggest thing is belief," Kerr said.

"We've always got to this point and fallen at the last hurdle and when he first joined, that's what a lot of us said, that we just want to get there and get through and give ourselves an opportunity to win a medal because we really believe that we can, but we've just not been able to get over that hurdle.

"He's really instilled that belief that we can do it and we can beat any team and play the way we want to play and I think you've seen that we've played every game, how we play, we haven't changed for anyone and that gives us massive belief when we beat teams like Great Britain."

Forward Kyah Simon also praised Gustavsson for encouraging and fostering the Matildas 'Never Say Die,' culture.

"Passionate is definitely a word that springs to mind, first and foremost," Simon said when describing her coach.

"Also his energy, his charisma and just his passion for his job and for our team.

"He hasn't tried to force too much of his tactics and his style of play. He's really formed his tactics, his philosophy and style of play to suit the players that we have and his understanding of our culture as well, it's been really nice that we've gelled together.

Matildas Great Britain

"We welcomed him with open arms and it's been such an enjoyable seven weeks since we've been together as a whole squad under Tony. I'm really proud to be part of this team and it's exciting to see what we can do in the near future, but also the distant future," she continued.

"His care and his understanding of player management as well, I can't speak highly enough of Tony and it's not just because he's sitting right next to me.

"I can speak on behalf of the team that we're really enjoying this process. We're loving this tournament and we're really pumped to see what we can do as a team."

Coach Gustavsson was humbled by his teams' comments but quickly shifted the focus back onto the players when asked how he felt hearing their feedback.

"I don't think I can praise the players enough either, for the way they embraced me coming in and made me feel welcome in this unique environment," he said.

MORE: "We want to give ourselves an opportunity to win a medal because we really believe that we can"

"I said earlier on and I'll say it again, sitting on the opposition bench coaching against Australia way back, I felt that there was some kind of effect that I wanted to know more about," the former USWNT assistant coach said.

"Now that I'm part of this amazing Matildas family, I've started to realise that uniqueness and that never say die attitude and the passion and how proud they are to represent their country. Being a small part of that makes me proud and happy.

"We've started to get on the same page and everyone is seeing the same picture and we're trying to build the team out of the player's strengths, not just Tony's tactics, my tactic is me building tactics around the key players in the key positions and getting the most out of the players," he continued.

"But at the end of the day, it's not the tactics that brought us here, it's the passion and the heart that the players have shown.

"When they dug really deep against Great Britain to pull out that win, that was all about that belief and that ruthless winning mentality and togetherness that the team showed.

"The players created that way before I came on board, so I'm just happy to be part of that, to be honest."