Tony Gustavsson buoyed by better defensive display

The Westfield Matildas recorded a scoreless draw against Sweden in their final competitive match before Tokyo.

While the stalemate halts a run of three consecutive losses, the result left Australia’s head coach, Tony Gustavsson feeling “mixed”.  

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“I think there's parts of it that is solid and especially defensively. Sweden is a really, really good attacking team, especially on counters, crosses, and corners. I think we defended our box well today, better than previously.”

“I don't think we were as intense and aggressive and attacking minded as we've been in previous games. And I think actually, some of the tactics has been a little bit better in previous games, even though we had our chances.”

This match, as well as the other three friendlies and the two camps, have provided the squad with an opportunity to learn and implement more of Gustavsson’s philosophy as the team gears up for Tokyo.

That has included adapting to the rhythms of the game against all kinds of opposition under all kinds of conditions.

“We've been training very hard to be honest, they were pushed through training this week. We're not going to peak against Sweden, we're going to peak in the Olympics. So we need to train through and learn how to play with some fatigue and you can see that today. So I think it's more that that made us a little bit more compact in our defending.”

READ: Milestone Matildas reflect on Sweden draw

MATCH REPORT: Westfield Matildas share spoils with Sweden in scoreless draw

WATCH: Mini Match Sweden v Westfield Matildas

“We still want to be that aggressive team that's on the front foot, but you need to learn that game management beat that sometimes the game tells you what you need to do and the players adjusted to that. But I agree that our defending was more solid this game, especially in and around our own box. We protected that better today than previous games.”

The next stage in Olympic preparation is selecting the 18-woman squad. Gustavsson and the Westfield Matildas coaching staff have plenty of decisions to make and will give players every opportunity to book themselves a spot on the plane.

“All the players deserve every single minute to prove to me they belong in the Olympic roster, whether that's in training and games.”

“There's a lot of players that have been given opportunities as of late because we're in the process. We're in the process of development to get one day better. We're in the process of [working on] the Performance Gap report that's been presented by the Federation in terms of players getting minutes and so forth. So I'm happy to be a part of that development journey.”

Players will take part in a transition camp with the Tokyo squad to be announced in the coming weeks. Australia’s first game at Tokyo takes place on July 21 against New Zealand.