Incoming Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson will draw on his big-game experience with the US women’s national team as he plans to take Australia to the next level.
The Matildas, ranked No.7 in the world, have long been known for punching above their weight but are yet to seriously challenge for a World Cup or Olympic medal.
Gustavsson, a dual Women’s World Cup winner as an assistant coach with the US, said he would embrace the Matildas’ “never say die” attitude but highlighted the need to deliver “add-ons” to improve Australia’s game management and belief.
“I’ve experienced tournaments a lot and I know any team can win when they play good but it’s about winning when you’re not playing good and understanding what it takes to find a way to win,” he said.
“So game management is going to be a piece of that.
“There’s going to be periods in games where we’re not playing good and it’s having that game management, understanding what to do in those periods of the games to find a way to win.
“… Another piece of it is the belief that we have good enough qualities to beat anyone on any day, even if we have bad moments or even if we’re down a goal or even if we’re up a goal with five minutes to go – that belief in ourself and the trust in our abilities.”
Gustavsson has coached against the Matildas on multiple occasions and said there was room to improve in attack and defence but emphasised building a high-tempo game style would be key to his approach.
“Looking at the trends of the game, everyone sees that it’s just faster and faster and faster,” he said.
“There’s less time on the ball to make decisions, there’s less time in defending to get in to pressure the player on the ball – everything is more intense and the tempo is rising and everything is faster.
“So one of the key things is how fast can we play without losing control, and I mean both on the defensive side of the ball and the attacking side.”
Gustavsson said he had a passion for helping people “reach their full potential” and believed he could get the best out of and expand a golden generation featuring Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter.
“There’s a lot of potential there, they’ve already shown their qualities,” Gustavsson said.
“But I also think we can together take them to the next level and together with that, also get the next generation involved so there’s some real competition to the spots on the roster.”