Tony Gustavsson: “You can win different things. You can win trophies, and you can win the hearts of people."

After just missing out on a Tokyo 2020 podium position last night, Matildas' coach Tony Gustavsson and defender, Steph Catley spoke to media about using the bronze medal loss to fuel future success, along with the exciting journey ahead for women's football in Australia.

Journey 2023

“I said in the circle that I actually hope we're never gonna forget the feeling of this loss because, that feeling - we never want to be there again," Gustavsson said of the Matildas 4-3 defeat by the US in the battle for bronze.

“We need to use that as fuel to make sure we work really hard from now on to get better, so come that World Cup in '23, we want to have the feeling we had when we played GB (Great Britain), that excitement and celebration to win. 

“Personally I’m never going to forget this feeling. You don't remember what someone said, you don’t remember what they did, but you definitely remember how they made you feel. 

READ: Matildas reach best-ever Olympic placing and the best is yet to come

“And this feeling is probably never gonna be forgotten by any one of us," he continued.

“But I also want to add one thing, which is very, very important. There's also a feeling of pride. I'm extremely proud of these girls - the way that they fought, the never-say-die attitude on show at this tournament, the football that we showcased. 

“You can win different things. You can win trophies, and you can win the hearts of people."

Gustavsson went on to talk about the record-breaking audience numbers the Matildas achieved back home, peaking at 2.32 million at its highest.

“I think one of the reasons why those viewers are sky-high in terms of numbers of people watching this team, is that they show that they wear the crest on their chest and always give their best.”

Matildas Tokyo 2020 Thank you

Catley added that the support didn't go unnoticed and that she believes Aussies have always connected with the underdog factor.

“Coming in, and all of us not being together for over a year. You can’t ask for more difficult circumstances than that," she explained.

“The heart that we showed in this tournament and the way we came together and the way we played for each other, and by the time we got through these last few games, we were all completely on the same page and playing the football that we know we can play. 

“With our performances and the way we've been playing this tournament, it's really captured the hearts of Australians and we've always felt the love back home."

When asked if she thought the tournament had been a success for Australia, Catley said although the goal was bringing home a medal, the experience the team has gained has set them up for future success.

Stephanie Catley of Australia in action during the women's international friendly match between Japan and Australia at Sanga Stadium by Kyocera on July 14, 2021 in Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

With an Asian Cup in 2022 and a FIFA Women's World Cup on home soil in 2023, it could not have come at a better time.

“It's hard to say it was a success. A success would have been a medal. That was our goal from the beginning," she said.

“But I would say we've gained a lot. We've learned a lot. And we've come a long, long way from where we were. 

“We've got semifinal experience now, which we've never had before.

“It's only up from here with the tournaments to come. And this team’s going to get better and better."