Emily Gielnik is just one of the players who will feel right at home when the Westfield Matildas play against Sweden in the final friendly of the June window.
After entering the game in the 68th minute and playing a role in Australia’s two goals, she and the rest of the team are ready to attack the next challenge.
“We try not to look back too much. I think we can't really dwell on what was a loss. And honestly, it was a good comeback, a good fight back. We've shown some real fighting spirit, but I think we've got to move on from that.” Gielnik said.
“And the next target opponent is Sweden, and see how we can develop a game against what could arguably be one of the best teams in the world at the moment. So it's a really good picture for us moving forward.”
One part of that picture is the return of some familiar faces. After various delays and absences caused by the pandemic and injury, there is still a thrill when the team gets to reunite and it is a feeling that is palpable from one camp to the next.
“The energy is a bit different. Obviously, some old familiar faces back, some major starting 11 key players coming back into the team. So there's a real buzz around the camp.” Gielnik explained.
“And I think that maybe we've had a bit of a slower start than what we're used to. But to be fair, we've been away from each other and away from this team for quite some time. So, it's only a matter of time before we get the ball rolling. And I'm just really looking forward to that cohesiveness really coming together.”
“Because I know good things will come with the players that we have, and with everyone coming back together. So in due time. And really, it's the Olympic Games that count. So these are just building blocks towards that.”
As the team builds towards Tokyo and Tony Gustavsson trims down his squad to meet the constraints, these friendlies provide players a chance to show what they’re worth. It is an invitation that Gielnik believes the whole squad should be taking on board for the benefit of the team.
“Everyone should be fighting for a starting 11 spot and I think it's important that everyone is in that fighting position because it's going to push us as a team and push us individually. So we just first and foremost need to support each other on and off the pitch no matter who's playing and really be a true team team.”
On a more personal level, Gielnik has been playing in Sweden with Vittsjö after spending the back half of the 2020 season at the club as well.
“Yeah, I think this is a special game and it will be a special game for me if I'm playing and a part of that, obviously playing in Sweden last year and being here now.”
Despite the strong ties to Sweden, Gielnik’s loyalties are not split. If anything, she wants the win even more and knows she isn’t the only one with a Swedish connection.
“So yes I'm Australian, but I'm also playing in the country that I'm heavily involved in. Not that my heart's in two places obviously it's with the green and gold but it will be a different a nicer feeling.”
“But I'd love to beat them more than anything and also beat them for Tony because he's Swedish as well. So I'm sure that this means a lot to him this game.”