Results in friendly matches aren’t a priority for Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson

Marco MonteverdeNCA NewsWire
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Tony Gustavsson has defended his ordinary record since taking charge of the Matildas, saying his only concern was to perform well in major tournaments.

Gustavsson coaches the Matildas for a 13th time on Saturday night when the Australians host Brazil at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium.

Under the Swede, the Matildas have won just twice in 12 games, and have conceded a whopping 30 goals.

But Gustavsson pointed to his team’s fourth-placed finish at this year’s Tokyo Olympics as evidence that when it mattered, the Matildas performed.

His next target is success at next year’s Asian Cup, which starts in January in India, with the long-term goal being a triumphant 2023 World Cup on home soil.

“Yes, we want to win every game we play, but I’m not going to change my mindset in terms of putting this team through these preparations that I think (are) very important to then win something (at the) Asian Cup,” Gustavsson said.

“And if we don’t perform there, I’m the first one to take that hit. I’ll be OK with that.”

Gustavsson was also happy to take a “hit” for the Matildas’ defensive woes.

“Yes, we’ve conceded a lot of goals, but if you should criticise someone for that, it’s me, because I’m putting the players through a process here where it’s all about preparation,” he said.

The former USA women’s team assistant coach said that 15 years ago he might have had a different attitude and played for a 1-0 win rather than try to entertain.

“That’s not what this team is about. That’s not what these fans want to see,” Gustavsson said.

“We want to be aggressive and score a lot of goals. We’ve showed we can score a lot of goals but (must) defend better without being conservative.”

Gustavsson said the Matildas needed to cope with the pressure and scrutiny currently on them following Lisa De Vanna’s allegations of assault, bullying, harassment and grooming in Australian women’s football.

“What I’m trying to do is explain to players and staff is, if you genuinely want to be the team that can lift that (World Cup) trophy in ’23, we need to get used to performing under pressure, and look at pressure as a privilege, because that means there’s a lot of interest in our team … that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I hope this isn’t interpreted as me being disrespectful to the other important things that’s talked about now, meaning all the events in women’s football, but there’s so many things to be excited about here.”

Originally published as Results in friendly matches aren’t a priority for Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson

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