Tony Gustavsson: "If we play our A-game, we know we're going to go home with a medal."

Today is the day, where the Matildas have the chance to bring home Australia's very first Olympic football medal.

Matildas' head coach, Tony Gustavsson spoke to Tokyo 2020 media about the battle for bronze match up against the US and what fans can expect.

Gustavsson was asked what his expectations were around the match itself, when 'the Matildas are reaching for something they've never reached before, while the US team are going down.'

He said the team wasn't concerned about the dynamics or trajectory of the USWNT, they are only focused on themselves.

"I think what we've done well in this tournament, is focused on ourselves," he said. 

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"We can't control where the US are coming from or how they're feeling, we're focusing on ourselves and we've said from day one that we believe in the process of getting one day better, and then the result will take care of itself."

The Swedish-born Aussie coach praised the Matildas for how far they've come so far, despite not having spent much time together pre-tournament.

"What I am surprisingly impressed with is the speed of the development process of this team, especially with the short preparation time we had going into this tournament," he explained.

"I said when a tournament started that you're never going to know until the tournament starts, where you're at, but you focus on the preparation to get one day better.

Stephanie Catley of Australia in action during the women's international friendly match between Japan and Australia at Sanga Stadium by Kyocera on July 14, 2021 in Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

"The amount of work that the staff and the players have put into getting one day better is one of the reasons why we're here today playing for a bronze medal, the commitment of always wanting to get better."

Gustavsson also went on to commend the team behind the players.

"Where we are at now is all down to the staff and the players and my support staff and the players and their commitment to get better.

"I agree that we're on a positive development journey in terms of always getting better going into this game, but I also want to be very, very clear - We have unfinished business here, we want to leave this tournament with a win and we want to leave this tournament with a medal."

When talking tactics against the World No.1, he spoke about how the Matildas would need to ensure they don't allow the US to play their direct attacking style.

"We know that the US is a really good team in their transition game," he said.


"They want to press, win the ball and then they play very direct, one of the most direct teams in the tournament in terms of always trying to get in behind.

"We saw that they had a couple of breakaways against us when we played them last time, so we don't want to get dispossessed in the wrong areas and let them transition on us.

'We always know that when you play for the medal set plays are always important. If you look at statistics from both the women's and men's tournaments, you know that set plays are going to be massive," he continued.

"But if we look aside from tactics for a minute, I think the number one thing is the commitment, the team that wants the most tomorrow is going to win and I know that we want it a lot. 

"That commitment and the inner drive to leave it all out there is going to be massive and I also want to go back to our belief in ourselves and belief in the game plan, in each other to play our game.

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"That is going to be the number one reason why we step off that field tomorrow with a win."

Gustavsson was also asked how much it's going to hurt the team, losing defender Ellie Carpenter after her red card against Sweden in the dying minutes of the semi-final clash.

"I think everyone who has followed us through the tournament, has seen what a massive role Ellie's had. She's been one of the best defenders in the tournament, in my opinion," he said.

"She's also been a team player and everyone that knows Ellie knows that her best position is not just right-back or wingback, it's her attacking mindset and what she can do attacking-wise as well.

But to play right back in the back three when she needs to hold back a little bit more and do things for the team, she's been a true team player in this tournament, and she's meant a lot for us," he continued.

Ellie Carpenter against Japan before the Olympics

"I'm not going to lie about that, she has meant a lot with her speed back there and you know, that US tried to get behind us a lot and lacking one of the fastest players in the world, the backline is obviously going to have an impact on the game plan.

"But I have complete trust that we can still win this game because the players that have come in before have done a phenomenal job and we have a lot of defenders in form right now, so I think we can still deal with it."

Gustavsson was asked how major an accomplishment it would be to beat the US to bronze.

READ: Steph Catley: "I've never had this feeling before...

"It would be massive and that's our main motivator going into this game tomorrow and we're going to leave everything out there," he said. 

"These players have shown in every game that they don't hesitate to play attacking-minded football that we want to play, we're all about pressing and attacking when we can and we've stayed true to who we are through the whole tournament and what we'll do so tomorrow as well.

"If we play our A-game, we know we're going to go home with a medal and that's our goal."

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Matildas v United States
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