Australia coach Tony Gustavsson has defended his coaching strategies and squad choice as an damage disaster hangs over the nationwide workforce forward of their 2023 Girls’s World Cup conflict with Nigeria in Brisbane on Thursday.
Attacking trio Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler and Kyah Simon are all unavailable for the Matildas’ second match, as is defensive stalwart Aivi Luik, whereas midfielder Tameka Yallop is predicted to solely play restricted minutes as she returns from a thigh damage.
“Typically you’re unfortunate and you might want to take care of the playing cards you’re handed,” mentioned Gustavsson. “We’re able to play these playing cards. We have now lots of attacking choices nonetheless within the roster, however this workforce has additionally confirmed that we’re adaptable.
“We would have a unique profile of participant, however we’re nonetheless going to have the identical identification. We would have a unique formation, however we’re nonetheless going to have the identical identification.”
Fowler and Luik have been dominated out on Wednesday because of gentle concussions suffered coaching, with Soccer Australia’s concussion protocols requiring that gamers sit out for six days post-incident. Kerr suffered a calf damage final week, whereas Simon is getting back from a long-term ACL damage.
“When it’s concussion protocol as a coach, you need to have the largest respect for participant well being – if a participant is dominated out, they’re dominated out,” mentioned Gustavsson. “In the case of the coaching, I completely perceive, should you didn’t see the coaching, if I have been you sitting on the market, I might go ‘what the heck is going on in trainings?’ Two concussions in a single coaching, two days out from the sport. Nevertheless it was utterly regular coaching.”
Gustavsson mentioned that the incidents occurred individually, and that there have been no ongoing issues. “We have been unfortunate,” he mentioned. Each gamers attended coaching on Wednesday and Fowler undertook mild coaching duties. “Two separate incidents – it’s a bit unreal to be sincere. I by no means skilled something prefer it,” he mentioned.
Gustavsson mentioned he was unable to supply an extra replace on the standing of captain Kerr.
“We need to present an incredible quantity of respect to our followers on the market, as a result of they’ve been huge when it comes to supporting us,” he mentioned. “We need to be on this collectively. However I additionally know that the followers need the perfect for the workforce, and the perfect for the workforce is to deal with the sport tomorrow with the gamers which are out there.
“We have now been as open as we might be to say it’s a calf damage that’s going to be reassessed after the Nigeria sport. Me personally, I don’t know greater than that as of now – I’m simply specializing in the gamers I’ve out there for tomorrow, and I do know that’s how Sam needs it as properly.”
Gustavsson mentioned that the workforce would give Kerr each alternative to play within the ultimate group match towards Canada. “Most certainly we received’t be capable to give a solution on [Kerr’s status] till the day earlier than the sport,” he mentioned. “We need to wait till the final minute to see the place she’s at when it comes to availability.”
Matildas wing-back Steph Catley, elevated to captain in Kerr’s absence, insisted that morale was excessive within the camp regardless of the damage set-backs. “It’s soccer,” she mentioned. “It occurs to each single footballer on the whole planet. We’re not the primary workforce that’s had accidents in main tournaments and we received’t be the final.”
Gustavsson additionally defended the collection of Simon, who will not be anticipated to return to motion till later within the match. “I’m by no means going to remorse selecting Kyah,” the Swedish coach mentioned. “I picked her for various causes. One was we knew she was going to have restricted minutes however her sport altering high quality was what we picked her for.”
Gustavsson additionally cited Simon’s contribution to the workforce tradition and her penalty-taking potential. “We knew it was a threat,” he mentioned.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nigeria’s coach Randy Waldrum denied that the Matildas’ damage woes would immediate any deviations to his sport plan.
“We by no means prefer to see gamers injured, I understand how devastating that’s – lacking matches on the World Cup,” mentioned the American. “However I don’t suppose it adjustments our tactic and what we’re attempting to do. They clearly nonetheless have lots of weapons that may damage you. I do know for them they might really feel considerably of a problem, however for us we all know the energy of their workforce.”
If the Matildas win on Thursday, it can assure development to the spherical of 16. Something much less would see the Australians journey to Melbourne with all to play for of their ultimate group stage encounter, towards Canada on Monday.
“This group is simply so tough,” mentioned the Nigeria coach. “On a given day, anyone may make something occur. It’s simply a particularly tough group.”