Tony Gustavsson will remain at the helm of the Matildas as they look to “peak” for the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023, Football Australia chief executive James Johnson has told ESPN.
The Matildas fell to back-to-back defeats by reigning Olympic champions Canada in Brisbane and Sydney this month, continuing an unedifying record of just one win in 18 attempts against teams in FIFA’s Top 20 rankings during the Gustavsson-era.
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Identifying his side’s record against the world’s best as a long-standing weakness, Gustavsson has continuously preached the need for the Matildas to play against high-strength opposition in the lead into the World Cup and maintained that stance throughout the lean run-off form that has eventuated.
“Of course, Tony will be in charge in October,” Johnson told ESPN.
“We’re not focused on the windows for friendly matches.
“Our goal is to ensure that by 2023, in July, when the Matildas kick off in Sydney… that they’re at their peak, they’re at their strongest and that they’re in the best position following the most difficult process we could put in front of them so that they can go as deep and far into the World Cup on home soil as possible.”
Football Australia announced last week that the Matildas would return to action against reigning African champions South Africa in the October international window, playing Banyana Banyana in London on Oct. 8 before facing Denmark on Oct. 11.
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They will return to Australia in November, with a stiff test against Sweden in Melbourne on Nov. 12.
Backing a coach who is the subject of an ongoing review would, on a surface level, appear premature, but Johnson explained that Football Australia conducted an assessment of its national teams after each window as a matter of policy.
“Football Australia went through a process about two-and-a-half years ago, and there was a review done called the Smith-Gander review, and we’ve since implemented that report step by step,” he said.
“So there are ongoing reviews of all our national teams. Our coaches, the culture of our teams — this is an ongoing process. It’s not a surprise, we do it every single window.
“We get feedback, we have different channels from the players, from the coaches and it’s designed to ensure that we’re open, we can have tough discussions about how to ultimately improve the program. This is a normal process at Football Australia in 2022.”
Johnson was philosophical when asked if he believed the Matildas were capable of lifting the World Cup on home soil in 10 months.
“We’re confident that the Matildas will be at their peak, competing at their best and will go as deep into the tournament as possible,” he said.