The Commonwealth Matildas will be back on the pitch taking on the Republic of Ireland.
After medicals, individual screenings, and fitness testing, the team has shifted back into game preparation mode in what will be its first hit-out since the loss to the United States in the Bronze medal match at Tokyo.
Following a delayed start to his tenure, this game will be the 12th for the Commonwealth Bank Matildas under Gustavsson. With several friendlies and a major tournament now under their collective belt, the picture is clear for where this team is heading.
“You're definitely going to see more of the same, the DNA and identity of this team is crystal clear and that is never going to change,” Gustavsson told media from Dublin.
“And that's not because I set that DNA identity. It's because the players have done it and I as a coach need to come in and build on the culture and identity and the DNA of this team.”
Fans can expect to see more of the aggressive pressing game, an attacking mindset, and going forward with numbers as shown during the Olympics.
But there will also be a concerted effort to tighten up defensively.
“What we do need to develop though, is to be able to defend large spaces in a better way.”
“Maybe me 10 years ago, as a coach would say, hey, we need to be more compact, we need to be more conservative, we need to stay together. We need to drop back, kill the space, but that's not going to happen.
"We're still going to be the Matildas and we just need to learn how to deal with big spaces in a better way and identify players that can do it.”
While there is an abundance of new players and defenders in this squad, one player who is neither new nor a defender is Sam Kerr.
The Australian captain is set to earn her 100th cap after leading the team to fourth in Tokyo and topping the all-time list of goal scorers, overtaking Lisa De Vanna.
PREVIEW: Ireland v Australia
Gustavsson was full of praise for the striker.
“I could stand here for hours and talk about Sam Kerr to be honest, it's such a privilege to be a small part of her phenomenal career,” he said.
“And she's not just a phenomenal and world-class footballer, she's a phenomenal and world-class person as well. Her influence on this team, on and off the pitch can't be described in words. I will try to put it in words for her in a speech to thank her in front of the team this weekend.
“What I did say today though, is that it's her 100th game and that's a game that she's going to remember for the rest of her life. We as a team want to give her the best memory possible, so we actually want to play for our captain, extra, tomorrow.”
The Republic of Ireland will look to spoil the party for Kerr and the Aussies by presenting a challenge they have never faced before.
While 22 places separate the two sides in the FIFA rankings, Gustavsson believes the number disguises the true toughness of this opponent and the closing gap between nations in the women’s game
“I think we've seen in the women's game throughout these last years that that gap between lower-ranked teams and higher-ranked teams is getting closer," he said.
"I love the fact that the women's game has grown so much and developed so much, and what I do know with Ireland, and I think we're going to see that tomorrow, is that it's a team that is very well organized, and really fight hard. It's going to be a physical game, a physical battle.”
Republic of Ireland v Commonwealth Bank Matildas
Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Venue: Tallaght Stadium, Dublin
Kick Off: 4:00am (AEST)
Broadcast: Live and free on 10 and simulcast on 10 Play. Pre-game coverage from 3.30am AEST.
Please note that all dates & times listed are AEST. Kick-off in Rep. of Ireland is on Tuesday, 21 September 2021 at 7:00pm local time.