Alen Stajcic says his Westfield Matildas will mix their aggressive philosophy with street-smarts in their make-or-break FIFA Women's World Cup clash against powerhouse Sweden on Wednesday morning (AEST).
The Matildas go into the final group game with the luxury of having their destiny in their own hands.
A victory or draw would ensure their qualification to the second round but a defeat could leave them vulnerable to falling out the competition’s trapdoor.
The fifth-ranked Swedes will present a huge test of the Matildas’ resolve but one Stajcic feels his young side is more than ready for.
“I think everyone has seen already how far we’ve come in the last four years from the last World Cup to this World Cup. The fact that we could compete well with America and Nigeria,” the Aussie coach told reporters on Tuesday (AEST).
“I think we’ve already showed we’re a team up in the top few in the world and Sweden’s a good yard stick to prove it once again.
“You’re playing a former World Cup finalist, third place at the last World Cup and perennial heavyweights.
“It’s pretty much do-or-die for both teams. If Sweden lose they are potentially out of the World Cup and out of the Olympics so they’ve got a lot riding on the game as well.
“But so have we. We can finish anywhere from first to fourth in this group still. Everything’s up for grabs in this group and certainly we’re not taking our foot off the pedal.”
Stajcic wouldn’t divulge the make-up of his starting XI but revealed every player was fit and available for selection.
There’s a confident aura in the squad after the performance against the USA, followed by the 2-0 win over Nigeria, which was the first time in a World Cup match the Matildas had kept a clean-sheet.
“It’s something we’ve never done before in six World Cup attempts since 1995 so it shows the team is maturing,” Stajcic said.
“Even though we’re an offensive team it shows we’re disciplined and limited Nigeria to possibly two or three half chances and shots outside the box. It’s good omens for us.
“When you look at the group we’ve kept our first clean sheet in history, had the most shots on target [11 compared to US 8, Nigeria 7 and Sweden 4] so it shows how far we’re progressing as a team.
“If you keep those stats going over a long period of time you end up winning more games.”
Asked if he would tinker with the side’s game-plan, needing only a draw to progress, Stajcic said: “You know the answer to that. We’ll go out to try and win every game, that’s within our culture and philosophy and we’re out to win the game.
“[But] you have to be a little bit pragmatic and a little bit street smart. If it’s 0-0 with two minutes to go, we’re not going to throw the kitchen sink trying to get a 1-0 win.
“We have to be a bit smart but there’s no way we’re going into the game looking for a draw, it’s not in our style, not in our culture and certainly not in the philosophy of this team.”
Defender Steph Catley admitted there were a few nerves given the magnitude of the match but felt the side was well-equipped to handle Sweden’s devastating attack and star striker Lotta Schelin.
“We’ve got some really good defenders and coming off a game where we got a clean sheet, I think our back four in particular held strong and played a good game,” she said.
“We’re going in with a lot of confidence, we’ve done the research and we know what she’s good at and how we can nullify her.”