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

With a semi-final showdown with Sweden locked in, Matildas' head coach, Tony Gustavsson, and skipper, Sam Kerr spoke to Tokyo 2020 media about the task ahead.

Coach Gustavsson was asked what he thought was the main reason the Matildas won their 4-3 quarter-final match-up against Great Britain. He credited the team behind the team along with the toughness and adaptability of the Aussie players.

"There are obviously many reasons why we won this game. But when you talk about the long game and extra time I can't help but credit  our sports science team, our sports medicine team for all the prep work that they've done with the players," he said.

"Our players have played many more minutes going into this game than the GB players who were able to rotate much more, but still our players have been able to push through physically in a way that you very seldom see, we dug deep tonight."

Alanna Kennedy #14 of Team Australia celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Women's Quarter Final match between Great Britain and Australia on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Gustavsson also took the time to single out goalkeeper, Teagan Micah.

"Another reason is also the preparation that our analysts have done together with the goalkeeping coach when it comes to PKs.

"There's no coincidence that we saved that PK, Teagan made a phenomenal save."

He also went on to praise 18-year-old Mary Fowler on her performance.

Mary has shown throughout a very long time now, that she has been scoring goals and training for weeks and weeks now. Left foot, right foot, headers, she was very close to scoring a goal against the US as well with that header off the crossbar," he explained.

READ: Sam Kerr: "I can't explain how proud I am to be part of this team"

"What I love here is the players encourage each other as well. The experienced players will say take the shot Mary because you're going to score and obviously she got a well-deserved goal, also how she handled the pressure in the quarter-finals as a young inexperienced player and she showed no nerves, is great."

 "Another one is game management. I think we saw 50 different games out there tonight," he laughed.

"We said from day one, that these players should be adaptable to change and they weren't tonight. Whether we're down and how they responded to that, to when we were in the lead, protecting a goal, all the different scenarios, and I'm mightily impressed at the player's response tonight, so there are different reasons why we won."

Sam Kerr #2 of Team Australia celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's fourth goal during the Women's Quarter Final match between Great Britain and Australia on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

He also spoke to the leadership of Kerr, who despite injury, still led the team to victory, contributing a brace herself.

"You can't look away from the fact that we scored four goals from four different types of set plays and you also can't look away from the player sitting next to me," (Kerr).

"The way Sam led the team even though she was in pain, it was one of those ones where she pushed through injury and the way she leads this group in the locker room, back at the hotel, on the buses, they are huge reasons why we won this game.

"What I've learned is that this group of players are amazing," the proud coach continued.

"I said that in the circle tonight, as well as how proud and happy I am to be a part of this team and to see the Never Say Die attitude on show tonight and it's not thanks to me, it's something that they've done for decades before I arrived and me being part of that, I'm very thankful and proud of that."

Kerr was asked what energy Gustavsson has brought to the team since coming in as coach.

"Just belief, I think you can see his personality is very upbeat, but the biggest thing is belief," she explained.

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)

"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 GB."

Kerr was also asked how making an Olympic semi-final ranks in her national team career.

"I mean, we've never qualified for a semi-final in a major tournament, but like Tony said, I can't think of anything else right now. I'm just trying to enjoy this moment," she said.

"I feel like we've done so much work to get here that we should enjoy it. We should take it and we should be proud of what we've achieved."

MORE: Matildas through to first Olympic semi-final with pulsating win over Great Britain

The Matildas' captain also said that going into the match having played with and against many of Great Britain's players, didn't make any difference to her individual performance due to the quality of her teammates.

"I have full confidence that I'll score, no matter what team we're playing, because of the quality of service that I get. 

"It doesn't matter who I'm playing against, where I'm playing, what minute it is, I really believe that my team will get it [the ball] to me and that's been something through the whole tournament," she continued. 

"Every goal I've scored has been because of amazing goal service, and yes, I finished the goal but I mean, look at Meeks' ball today, Steph on Alanna's goal, every single goal that we've scored has been from something brewing from someone else."

Gustavsson was also asked about his passionate celebrations throughout the match, which have now become gifs across social media.


"I think the players are starting to get to know me now and they know that there's a lot of passion and a lot of emotion in me and I'm thankful that they're patient with my passion," he laughed.

Gustavsson was asked about his first thoughts upon learning the Matildas would again meet with Sweden for a spot in the medal matches.

"I'm going to start looking at that tomorrow and enjoy this quarterfinal," he said.

"Now, the one thing I can say is that we're going to play a great team. [The last match we played] was a great game and it's going to be inspiring and exciting, that semi-final."