Tony Gustavsson: "I love that it’s difficult, no team has a tougher schedule"

Head coach Tony Gustavsson believes facing tough opponents in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and FIFA Women’s World Cup is ‘hugely important’. 

The Westfield Matildas will return to international football with two big tests in reigning Olympic Gold Medallists Germany on 11 April and FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 finalists, the Netherlands on 14 April.  

Germany v Matildas thin banner

396 days would have passed since the team last played and most would believe an easy opponent was the best way to settle back into international competition.

However, Tony Gustavsson sees it very differently:

“We need to understand how important it is for this squad to have as tough of a schedule as possible, that's one of the first things I said when I was appointed”, Gustavsson told

MORE: Tony Gustavsson selects 23 player squad for April internationals

READ: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ Host Cities and Stadiums announced

LEARN: What's happened since the Westfield Matildas last played?

OLYMPICS: Westfield Matildas back on the road to Tokyo 2020

With the Tokyo Olympics recommencing in July, there is little time for new coach Gustavsson to waste before the team travels to Japan.

With informed medical advice and Football Australia’s safety first framework restricting the selection of principally Australian based players - including those in the Westfield W-League - Gustavsson has called in 23 players with a mix of experience and youth.  

The challenge of facing the world number two, Germany along with world number four, the Netherlands will provide Gustavsson, and Assistant Coach Mel Andreatta, an opportunity to assess the qualities of the players on and off the pitch.

Matildas v Netherlands in 2019
Caitlin Foord in action against the Netherlands in 2019

“I could have gone down the route of thinking, let’s just have an easy start as a new coach, get a couple of easy games, so we get some positive results and then get some belief”

You know what, we can't waste a minute here, we need to play it as tough [opponents] as possible”

Gustavsson believes in extensive preparation schedules and the key to success is being as best prepared as any side in the world. His former side the USWNT, and eventual world champions, played upwards of 20 matches in 2018 leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, with matches including some of the highest ranked nations.

The 47-year-old intends to replicate the similiar template of success seen in the United States with the Westfield Matildas, as an Olympic campaign and home FIFA Women's World Cup looms.

“While with the US, there was a report done, even before I came on board which identified that we [Australia] need to face more quality opponents”

“But also ‘unique’ quality of opponents, with different playing styles, a new challenge every game”

Luckily for Gustavsson, the nation he now manages is known to thrive under a challenge.

Match Details

Germany v Westfield Matildas
Sunday, 11 April 2021
Venue: Brita-Arena Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden
Kick Off: 12:05am (AEST)
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo, ABC TV, and My Football Live App

Please note that all dates & times listed are AEST. Kick-off in Germany is on Saturday, 10 April 2021 at 4:05pm local time.

Netherlands v Westfield Matildas
Wednesday, 14 April 2021
Venue: NEC Stadium, Nijmegen
Kick Off: 2:30am (AEST) 
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo, ABC TV, and My Football Live App

Please note that all dates & times listed are AEST. Kick-off in the Netherlands is on Tuesday, 13 April 2021 at 6:30pm local time