Ultimate Guide: Westfield Matildas v Sweden

The Westfield Matildas will round out their Tokyo preparation with a match against Sweden.

Here's everything you need to know about our upcoming game.

Matildas June Friendlies

Background

After a 396 day break from international football, the Westfield Matildas returned with friendlies against the second ranked nation Germany and World Cup runners up The Netherlands.

Gaining positive results against such elite opposition proved difficult, with Australia defeated 5-2 and 5-0 by Germany and The Netherlands. Despite the score-line, the experience gained from both friendlies will prove invaluable in the long-term, as several players were introduced into the Westfield Matildas set-up and were given their international debuts.

Gustavsson's intention was to play as hard of an opponent as possible, in preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The restriction of only having non-Australian based players to pick from added an extra challenge. For the June friendlies, all Australian players will be available for selection, with established stars Steph Catley and Kyah Simon also returning from injury. 

The Squad

During the week, coach Tony Gustavsson released his 25-player squad for both Denmark and Sweden friendlies. A few familiar faces return to the national set-up while a number of potential debutants and young stars were named.

MORE: Gustavsson selects 25-player squad for June's Denmark and Sweden friendlies

The Westfield Matildas backline will be strengthened with the return of Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley, who missed the prior friendlies due to travel restrictions and in Catley's case, serious injury.

Veteran centre-back Caitlin Cooper has been selected for the first time since the 2018 AFC Asian Cup, following a successful 2020/21 campaign with Western Sydney Wanderers. Cooper, along with 19-year old debutants Courtney Nevin and Charlotte Grant, will provide defensive depth as the side traverse their heavy schedule.

Further up the pitch, Westfield Matilda regulars Kyah Simon and Elise Kellond-Knight return, with both possessing the big game experience required to help guide the young squad through an upcoming Olympic campaign.

Many Australian supporters were ecstatic to see teenager Kyra Cooney-Cross named in Gustavsson's squad of 25. After a stellar season, which included a championship-winning goal for Melbourne Victory, Cooney-Cross has now been given her opportunity to perform on the international stage.

READ: Squad Examined: Familiar names, fresh faces head into June camp

The Opponent

In the past two friendlies, national team manager Tony Gustavsson explained his goal is less about immediate results and more about the experience gained from playing Europe's best sides. 

Gustavsson understands it will be tough, but a unique test for our Westfield Matildas.

“I think it's going to be a different challenge than Germany and the Holland game because this is a different type of team. And we need to play against different styles." 

MORE: Tony Gustavsson excited by different challenge presented by Sweden

Sweden head in with fine form, playing four matches in 2021, winning three convincingly and drawing one. In all of those results, perhaps the most impressive was the lone draw, with Sweden pushing world champions, The United States all the way, back in April.

History

Our record against the Swedes does not provide good reading. Over 11 matches, Australia has been victorious on one occasion back in 1997, with three draws and seven losses. The last competitive match-up however, a 1-1 draw during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup group stage, ultimately secured Australia a spot in the knockout phase, eliminating Sweden in the process.

The upcoming match against Sweden also marks the ten year anniversary of our quarter-final battle at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. The 3-1 loss to our Scandinavian rivals may not have created any great memories for Australian fans, but the game and tournament saw a host of young Westfield Matildas unearthed, with many still in the national team set-up today. 

19-year old Kyah Simon lead the line for Australia alongside Lisa De Vanna that day, with a baby-faced 16-year old Caitlin Foord shifted from her usual fullback position onto the right wing.

Foord up for AFC Player of the Year

 

Further down the pitch, Emily van Egmond, who was two days' short of her 18th birthday, started in the middle of the park, with a 20-year-old Elise Kellond-Knight occupying the full-back position behind her. With Australia chancing the game in the second half, coach Tom Sermanni brought on 19-year-old midfielder Tameka Butt (Yallop) and defender Clare Polkinghorne, with the talented 17-year-old forward Samantha Kerr failing to appear despite appearing in all three group stage matches.

Match Details

Sweden v Westfield Matildas
Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Venue: Kalmar Arena, Kalmar
Kick Off: 02:45 (AEST)
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports, Kayo, ABC and My Football Live app

Please note that all dates & times listed are AEST. Kick-off in Sweden is on Tuesday, 15 June 2021 at 6:45pm local time.