Gustavsson gambles as Matildas’ Olympics squad is named

Matildas play China

Source: X

Tony Gustavsson is unsure if the upcoming Olympic campaign will be his last as Australia boss as he gambles on the fitness of Katrina Gorry by including the injured midfielder in his squad for Paris.

Three years on from a fourth-placed finish in Tokyo, Gustavsson is desperate to lead the Matildas to a medal after reaching the semi-finals at last year’s Women’s World Cup.

But Gustavsson, whose contract with Football Australia expires after the Games, remains unclear if this will be his last tournament.

The Swede had been linked with several vacancies in the past 12 months, including the US women’s national team and a job as an assistant to the Swedish men’s side.

Speaking after unveiling his 18-player squad for Paris on Tuesday, the 50-year-old indicated he and FA chief executive James Johnson would reassess his future after the Games.

“I think ‘JJ’ was clear a few months ago about the conversations that we had,” Gustavsson said.

“We said, ‘let’s respect the current contract, work through this Olympics and pick up that conversation post-Olympics’.

“As of right now, this is my last tournament. But we’ve said ‘let’s have a dialogue post-tournament’.

“What’s important for me and the team is that we focus on what is in front of us.

“What I can answer, though, is I think all of you know how much I love working with this team.”

Gustavsson has picked a relatively settled 18-player squad with Gorry included despite being sidelined since March with an ankle injury.

Gorry was absent from the team’s unveiling in Sydney on Tuesday. But the Matildas boss was bullish about his midfield metronome being ready to take on Germany in their group-stage opener.

“She is selected on where we hope and think she can be, come 25 July,” Gustavsson said.

“Her progress is going positively. She’s on track but there’s always a question mark … she’s not playing football fully yet.

“Based on the conversations with her, we think she’ll be in a good place come 25 July and even if she’s not backing up her profile as a player, I need that in the Olympics.”

Striker Caitlin Foord, who missed Monday’s friendly win over China with a hamstring strain, was also included.

Concern over Foord’s fitness is heightened given Sam Kerr remains sidelined.

But the Arsenal forward was keen to stress the approach was cautious following a World Cup campaign and gruelling club duties.

“It has been a long season and to be fair I’ve got through it pretty healthy,” Foord said.

“To pick up a little niggle it probably makes sense to put it down to a few things, but [before Paris] I think my body is ready for a bit of rest.”


Should any of his 18 players pick up injuries before the group stage clash with Germany in Marseille, Gustavsson has four “alternate players” available to slot in.

Courtney Nevin, retiring goalkeeper Lydia Williams, Sharn Freier and fullback Charlotte Grant are the quartet on standby.

Grant is the most unfortunate casualty. She did a solid job standing in for first-choice right back Ellie Carpenter, who missed 12 months of action in the build-up to last year’s World Cup with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

After facing Germany, Australia will play Zambia and the USA in its other pool fixtures.


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