Gustavsson: "This is going to be a very, very, very exciting group.”

This morning, the Matildas learned their Paris 2024™ Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament group stage opponents: USA, Germany, and Zambia/Morocco (pending the CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament playoff in April).

Head Coach Tony Gustavsson and Matildas' midfielder Emily van Egmond reacted to their group-stage opposition after the draw.

“We knew no matter who we were going to get, that this is a tournament filled with quality teams,” Gustavsson said this morning.

“How exciting – an opening game against Germany, one of the first teams I played as the Head Coach of the Matildas. The US again, that we’ve played in the last two Olympics. And then we saw what the African teams could do in the World Cup in 2023. So this is going to be a very, very, very exciting group.”

Now that the team know their opponents, Gustavsson explained that the coaching staff would begin to hone in on what's required to ensure the team was as prepared as possible for the tactical, technical and physical challenges ahead.

“At the end of the day, right now, we need to narrow down to the opening game on the 25th [July] against Germany,” he continued. “Same as we did in the World Cup when it was all about the opening game against Ireland. We narrow the focus now, and it’s all about the opening game.”

The squad size at the Olympic Games is only 18 players, five less than the 23 at the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. Narrowing the selection to such a small size is something that Gustavsson admits will be enormously challenging.

“It’s always tough with selection as a head coach, especially when you work with players for such a long time, and you know that there are more players who actually qualify for selection than I can select, so I need to leave players off who actually deserve to be there,” he explained.

“We’re going to base the selection more off who we are, and what tools we need, more so than the opposition… this is about us.”

Emily van Egmond also expressed her excitement about the group and the tournament ahead.

Emily VAN EGMOND of Australia and Jayde RIVIERE of Canada compete as Australia plays Canada at the FIFA Women s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

“Obviously, every group is a tough group,” she said. “[I’m] excited and happy now to know our opponents so we can prepare in the best way possible. I can’t wait for the challenge ahead.”

Van Egmond plays in the United States for San Diego Wave in the NWSL, and will be very familiar with many of the Matildas' opposition in the USA side.

“They’re coming into a phase now with a new head coach so it will be a new challenge for us - but we will look to focus on ourselves, first and foremost,” she explained.

“When I walk to that locker room and see some of the USA players I’m sure there’ll be a bit of stick but it’s all fun and games until you cross that white line. For us going into that game against the US, it will be business.”

In terms of their other confirmed group-stage opponent, Germany, Van Egmond expressed how their difficult qualification highlights the growth of the women’s game globally.

“Germany had to qualify through Europe and you look at the likes of Sweden, and England [Great Britain], to say a few who missed out so that tells you it’s becoming increasingly difficult and it’s exciting to see everyone investing in the women’s game, and how fast it’s growing,” she said.

Now, it is all about preparation for the players as the focus narrows towards July.

“It’s just utilising all the time that we have left,” van Egmond emphasised. “We only get 10-12 days a month to prepare and get together as a team to build towards the Olympics.”

“So for us to play against Mexico is going to be a great challenge and a game that we’ll look to capitalise on… and then, [it is about] just making the most of a small amount of time that we have left before we head to Paris.”


Germany v Australia
Date: 25 July 2024 (local) / 26 July 2024 (AEST)
Kick-off: 7.00pm (local) / 3.00am AEST
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille, France
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Australia v Zambia / Morocco
Date: 28 July 2024 (local) / 29 July 2024 (AEST)
Kick-off: 7.00pm (local) / 3.00am AEST
Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice, France
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Australia v United States
Date: 31 July 2024 (local) / 1 August 2024 (AEST)
Kick-off: 7.00pm (local) / 3.00am AEST
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille, France
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