Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson says Friday’s warm-up match against France ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is simply to “celebrate” football without pressure, as his squad prepare for their opening match of the tournament against Ireland on July 20.
The squad held its final training session on Thursday at Marvel Stadium ahead of the meeting with France.
“Tomorrow will be an opportunity to celebrate women’s football,” Gustavsson said on Thursday.
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“It doesn’t mean we don’t want to perform well, but it’s a very different perspective going into the game.”
Gustavsson says the France clash provides the Matildas an opportunity to test out their “attacking game style” against a genuine contender without fear or consequence.
“We have that approach that we want as many players as possible to get game time,” Gustavsson said.
“If you’re surprised a player maybe has a phenomenal game tomorrow and I take her off at half time, it’s going to be different (to the World Cup).
“We’ll use this game to take away things we need to be ready for an Ireland game.”
Luckily for the Matildas, France’s last two warm-up matches have been against their World Cup opposition – Ireland and Canada, meaning the side has some idea of what to expect going into the tournament.
”That was a very good bonus for us. We looked at a lot of videos,” Gustavsson said.
“It’s part of the bigger plan … meaning we need to play top opposition, European opposition, and make sure we measure ourselves against those top teams.
“In terms of tactics and formation and how they want to play, there’s a lot of similarities.”
Gustavsson said there was a special “buzz” around the group that has been together full-time for five weeks ahead of the tournament that he believes will lead them to achieve great things together.
“It was a buzz out there at training. There was a lot of energy out there,” he said.
“Everyone was goal celebrating out there … hopefully there is more of that to come.”
As for what lies ahead, the head coach knows what will allow his players to flourish on-field and take them deep into the tournament.
“These players are amazing in the sense that their ‘why’ is bigger than 90-minute football,” Gustavsson said.
“As long as they get to play for their ‘why’, it’s going to inspire them, it’s going to motivate them.”
The Matildas’ send off match against France on Friday night at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne is expecting a sell-out crowd, before they head to Brisbane for their first World Cup match against Ireland on July 20.
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