A second-string Matildas team was destroyed 7-0 by Spain in a firendly on Sunday (AEST), with coach Tony Gustavsson coming under fire again.
The Swedish coach sent out an experimental side, despite the team being in World Cup planning mode for the turnament Australia is hosting next year.
Spain is ranked five places ahead of Australia in seventh and have abundant class, running rampant with six goals in the second half as Gustavsson rested some key players including Sam Kerr.
The Matildas had just 24% possession, made 250 passes to Spain’s 776 and no shots on goal.
“A lot of people, devotees of the Matildas … will be thinking, ‘Why this, why now?’” pundit Andy Harper told Ten. “That’s the question that will be reverberating.
“You’re playing against Spain away from home a year out from the World Cup. Iron sharpens iron — so this was iron vs wood, with the greatest of respect.
“That second-half collapse is not a discredit to our team, but by my count there are four or maybe five girls out of the NSW NPL (National Premier League), right. And so a year out from the World Cup, is that when we see if girls playing at that level of football can take on six of the top 30 players in the world?
“This might have been 20 games ago to start rifling through the options.
“Nevertheless it is what it is for today, and so now he (Gustavsson) has got to pull the team together … but how much damage might have been done today?”
Former Matilda Thea Slatyer questioned what Gustavsson was trying to achieve by making so many changes and highlighted the uncertainty shown by goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold when she was brought on in the second half.
“She was definitely caught out quite a few times. I’m not sure whether that’s a confidence thing that’s going on there,” Slatyer told Ten in the post-match analysis.
“I know that the amount of changes the coaching staff was making would be quite, in my opinion, frustrating to a lot of the players and they seemed just as confused as I am to what he actually wants in some of those positions.
“That inconsistency is not doing anything for their confidence.
“Unfortunately, there was a few misjudgements there that cost us goals and in the end we’ve come away with a 7-0 loss which is not good for our morale.”
The Matildas next play Portugal on Wednesday in another friendly.