Tony Gustavsson impressed by Westfield Matildas' camaraderie
Tony Gustavsson has been in the Westfield Matildas top job since January and has been itching to get started.
The Swede finally got to meet the team and staff in person as the group assembled in camp ahead of friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands.
“I'm happy, I still have a voice left, I was so excited on the field. First couple of sessions I was so loud, so I almost lost my voice. That's how happy I am being back coaching." Gustavsson said in his pre-match press conference presented by Seven Consulting.
After plenty of Zoom meetings and online interactions, Gustavsson was thrilled to start getting to know the players while in the same rooms and on the pitch.
"When it comes to learning the group, I see now more on a personal level, obviously with social distances, the things that I've experienced talking to them [on Zoom] previously."
"Now I get to know them even better. It's a fantastic group of people, both the staff and the players.”
Gustavsson called upon 23 players for these matches. Amy Harrison and Ellie Carpenter were selected but have been unable to join the squad after they did not meet the health and safety protocols required to enter the camp.
Their absence provides opportunities for other players and for Gustavsson who is approaching the situation pragmatically.
“There's always challenges in football for different reasons. It could be everything from COVID protocol or players not being available for selection for different reasons. And I've always been one of those coaches that try to look at what I have in front of me and see how I can get the most out of the players available.”
"Depending on what's going to happen come Olympics, we'll need to find different ways of solving positions where, as you said, we right now are lacking options. So don't be surprised if you might see multiple solutions during these two games.”
The squad has a great range of players with the experienced heads of Lydia Williams and Clare Polkinghorne, as well as four players who have never played for their country before.
Despite the different experience levels, Gustavsson has been heartened by the camaraderie and support in the group.
“First of all, I want to credit the more experienced players, the way they have treated these newcomers coming in and the atmosphere in camp. I'm amazed and really, really impressed how the experienced players have taken them on board."
“And I'm also impressed [by the uncapped players], how they actually come into the environment. And even after just one or two days there, I see the same things in this environment as I saw in club level, that's why they're here. So in that sense I'm really impressed. Whether they're going to get playing time or not? That's to be determined."
Westfield Matildas assistant coach Mel Andreatta echoed Gustavsson’s sentiments, praising the players’ transition from their club environments into the national team set up.
“As we heard from Tony, the way the Matildas have embraced this group coming into the camp, and together with the players coming in, stepping up and knowing the environment that they're arriving in, the two together have been seamless."
“It's been a real joy to see, in fact, and then on the pitch, that transition has been seen as well. So all players are being super professional, enjoying being back together and coming together. And I'm excited to see what happens in the sessions ahead. And obviously, the learnings in the games that are ahead of us as well.”