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Pressure already on new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson after heavy losses
The Matildas could face World Cup humiliation on home soil in 2023 unless lessons are learnt from successive thrashings against Germany and the Netherlands according to Australian great Joey Peters.
Spanked 5-2 by the Germans last Saturday night in Wiesbaden, the Matildas stooped to a further low on Wednesday morning when they suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss to the Dutch in Nijmegen.
It was the Matildas’ heaviest defeat since losing by the same scoreline to China in 2008.
It’s also the first time in 26 years that the Australians have conceded five or more goals in consecutive games.
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With the Olympics starting in July, the pressure is already on new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson after just two games in charge.
The Dutch outfit are in the Australian group at the Olympics, and medal prospects seem remote on the evidence of the two losses.
However, Peters, who made 110 appearances for Australia between 1996 and 2009, said the “B” Olympics tournament should not be a concern for the Matildas.
Peters said the real worry was the 2023 World Cup being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
“Everyone’s going to come here … and we’ve got get to the quarter-finals through European teams,” the 2009 Australian Women’s Footballer of the Year said.
“In the last World Cup it was seven European teams and the USA in the quarter-finals.
“We’ve got to realistically look at these other countries that have a huge culture of football … they’re miles ahead of us.”
The games against the European powerhouses were the Matildas’ first since March last year, first under Gustavsson and played with a limited preparation using only overseas based players.
Gustavsson also used four new players across the two games, and another, Ella Mastrantonio, was introduced for her first Matildas cap in over 12 years
But Peters said the heavy losses to Germany and the Netherlands was the wake-up call the Matildas, and Australian women’s football as a whole, needed.
“We knew Europe was going way beyond us and it just shows how far we need to catch up now,” she said.
“The speed of the game in women’s football is crazy now … there is plenty to learn.
“We need to be able to play forward quickly … and our intelligence in defence was lacking.
“We’ve had girls that have been playing for 10 years together and yet will struggle to find cohesiveness as a national team.
“We’ve been through quite a few coaches now and the coaches that we’ve had are ones that are very much ‘you play my game, this is what I want you to do individually as opposed to collectively’.”
Despite the early struggles, which Gustavsson expected as players came in to a new system from their club teams, Peters was confident the Swede was the right coach to bring the Matildas forward tactically.
“I’m hoping this was really deliberate from Tony in saying ‘you girls wants to win an Olympic medal, you girls want to win a home World Cup, well let’s have a look here how good you really are … well this is how good you really are and this where you’re at,” she said.
“We have a good chance with him at the helm to either learn quickly or we can sulk. He’s not the type of guy to let them sulk. He’s a very positive guy.
“If anyone’s going to do something magic with this team over the next couple of years and hopefully beyond, it will be this person.”
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