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The Roar


'It's all about tomorrow': Gustavsson keeps cards close to chest as World Cup opener looms

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19th July, 2023

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has remained tight-lipped about how his starting side will look in 24 hours’ time when Australia takes on Republic of Ireland in Sydney.

Gustavsson and his captain Sam Kerr spoke to reporters on the eve of their Women’s World Cup campaign, not giving away too much but looking like two key figures well prepared for a legacy-building tournament, tempered by the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

“We’re really proud to bring this World Cup home,” Kerr said.

“I love playing in front of packed stadiums, but I think as a team it’s going to go up and down. We have to just live in the moment and we kind of spoke about it briefly today.”

Since his appointment almost three years ago, every move Gustavsson’s made has been with this moment in mind. Gustavsson has always requested he be judged on his tournament results, and he has a lot of ground to make up after a disastrous exit at the quarter-final stage of last year’s Asian Cup.

“It’s all about tomorrow,” the 49-year-old said.

The Swede’s starting line-up for the clash with Republic of Ireland won’t be revealed until close to kick-off time, but we know Sam Kerr will start in the No.9 role for the Matildas tomorrow night at Stadium Australia. In the likely column are the likes of Mary Fowler, Steph Catley and Kyra Cooney-Cross, while it would be a surprise if Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso are not deployed in attacking roles from the opening whistle.


There are question marks over Charlotte Grant, who has been ill in the last few days, while Tameka Yallop and Kyah Simon are unlikely to feature in Australia’s opening fixture. According to reports Gustavsson will have 21 fit players to choose from.

Australia secured a 1-0 victory over France at Marvel Stadium last Friday thanks to Fowler’s calm and composed finish from close range, the latest in a positive run of form. Prior to falling 1-0 to Scotland, Gustavsson’s side hadn’t lost since going down to Canada in September at Allianz Stadium – a seven-match win streak.

Mary Fowler celebrates scoring a goal.

Mary Fowler celebrates scoring a goal. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“I think the dress rehearsal against France with 50,000 in the stands was massive for us for a mental preparation,” Gustavsson said.

The Matildas have been placed in Group B with Ireland, Canada and Nigeria, a pool that that should be quite easily navigable – the Canadians are the only real threat to top the group. A home World Cup is a once in a lifetime event, and Aussie fans will be hoping their side can go all the way and topple the elite sides such as the United States and Sweden, but that will be easier said than done, with France, Germany and Brazil also likely to make deep runs.

Tune in for The Roar‘s live blog coverage from 8pm Thursday night, and keep it locked for all the post-game reaction, as the Matildas begin their home Women’s World Cup campaign in Sydney.

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