Van Egmond: "We have to come in with the right mentality"

Emily van Egmond said that the CommBank Matildas will focus on the things they can control as the team continues their preparation for the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying (Round Three).

Tony Gustavsson’s side arrived in Dubai on Monday to undergo a training camp in the lead-up to the two-legged fixture against Uzbekistan – the winner of which will qualify for Paris 2024™.

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Speaking to the media, Van Egmond gave an update on her preseason so far with the San Diego wave in the NWSL.

“We’re obviously in the middle of pre-season at the moment so been grinding hard, working hard, feeling good,” she said.

She is not only preparing for the season but also awaiting the arrival of her new national teammate Katelyn Torpey. The young full-back signed with the Wave earlier this month, and will be linking up with the squad after the international break.

“I always welcome the Aussies,” Van Egmond smiled. “It’ll be good. I think the girls are all excited as well. Exciting things for her as well, first professional overseas club which is a big move. She’s coming to a great club and organisation here, and to work under a fabulous coaching staff which is obviously headed by Casey Stoney so I’m sure she’s going to enjoy it and learn in abundance.

Looking forward to the upcoming international window, the midfielder stressed that the World No.47 will be no easy beat.

“It’ll be a tough challenge for us,” she explained. “Japan only beat them 2-0, so we’re expecting a compact team probably sitting in a low block to make it difficult for us to break through.

“In the past, we’ve really focused on what we can do and what we can control, and that’s what we’ll be doing going into these two games. They’re extremely important for us to try and get the results to obviously qualify for Paris.”

With a potential spot at Paris 2024™ so tantalisingly close, thinking ahead is tempting - but Van Egmond insists that the players remain focused on one step at a time.

“I think that’s [Paris 2024™] always in the back of your mind to some degree but I think for us as a team it’s always been the focus on the job at hand, which is these two games,” she emphasised, “so it’s important to not get too far ahead of yourself.

“They’re going to be difficult games, the travel is going to be one challenge within itself. So we have to come in prepared, we have to come in with the right mentality to make sure we do get the job done and we get the rewards at the end of the day - which I’m sure everyone will be on the exact same page of wanting to be part of that Olympic games in Paris.”

Emily van Egmond during camp in Dubai. (Photo: Tiffany Williams/Football Australia)
Emily van Egmond during camp in Dubai. (Photo: Tiffany Williams/Football Australia)

The 30-year-old has made a name for herself for her versatility. During the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, she was able to play a role up front to help fill the sizable gap left by Sam Kerr. At other times, she has played in midfield – in either a more advanced or deeper role.

She admits that it isn’t always easy switching roles from clubland to the national team, but that it is just a part of the job.

“At the end of the day, when you’re in clubland you’ve got a job to do, and you’ve got to be able to switch hats pretty quickly when you go on with the national team because sometimes both parties aren’t asking for you to play the same role,” she explained.

“That’s just part and parcel of being a professional athlete, being able to adapt, and for me, it’s always just coming in and being ready with whatever job’s asked of you, and I try to do it to the best of my ability always.”

Finally, van Egmond reflected on the potential smaller squad size for the Paris 2024™ Olympics, and how that spurs players on to perform at their best in a high-performance environment.

“Everyone is striving towards the same achievements, and especially for us as a team, for us it’s to quality for Paris,” she said. “It’s a smaller roster again than it was at the World Cup. I think everyone’s in a position now where it’s a challenge and it’s competitive and at the end of the day that’s what you want as a national team, you want the most competitive squad that’s available."

“You’ve got to just keep working hard and I think every single person who is going for a position on that Olympic roster will be doing exactly that.”

Uzbekistan v Australia
Date: Saturday, 24 February 2024
Kick-off: 2.00pm (local) / 8.00pm AEDT
Venue: Milliy Stadium, Tashkent
Broadcast: Live from 7.00pm AEDT on 10, 10 Play and Paramount+.