Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was left speechless during an emotional post-game interview in the immediate aftermath of their 2-0 win over Denmark, after being asked about the support his team have received throughout the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Australia were once again willed on by an enormous crowd inside Stadium Australia for their Round of 16 clash against the Danes, as 75,784 people poured through the turnstiles to bear witness to yet another historic victory.
Thousands more watched on in live sites across the country, while millions more tuned in from the comfort of their homes to witness the Matildas book their place in the quarter finals.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson couldn’t hold back his emotions as he was asked post-game by Australian football legend Mark Schwarzer on Optus Sport: “What would you want to say to the 75,000 people in the stadium? Thousands of people are watching it all across the country about tonight’s performance, about their support?”
“I get emotional. I really do. The support we feel is wow,” the Matildas boss said as he held back tears.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Gustavsson was full of praise for the manner in which Australia weathered Denmark’s early storm and were able to “find a way to win”, despite being on the back-foot early.
“The players managed to once again, play the moment in front of us,” he said.
“Right in that moment, the composure. We were under a lot of pressure in that first half they came out with a new shape, four-four-two, pressed us high. Got dispossessed a couple of times, but we didn’t get rattled. The team is very mature in playing tournament football and just found a way to win.”
The player key to the Matildas gaining the ascendancy was Caitlin Foord, who once more caused havoc on the left-hand side, backing up her brilliant performance against Canada with yet another dynamic showing.
Foord opened the scoring after getting on a brilliant through-ball from Mary Fowler and continued to be a threat all evening for the Danish defence who quite simply didn’t have an answer for the star attacker.
“We saw in the last game that the left side was very impressive,” Gustavsson said.
“She’s looked sharp in training, so we said, let’s make sure we activate the left side as much as possible today.
“We wanted to start the attack on the right side and then attack on the diagonal to activate her with on one v ones and two v ones”.
In an added boost, the Matildas welcomed back Sam Kerr to the fold, who played her first minutes since injuring her calf a day out from their opening World Cup game against Republic of Ireland a little over a fortnight ago.
Kerr came on to an enormous ovation in the 80th minute and came close to scoring moments later as she got through her first showing unscathed.
Gustavsson said he was pleased to welcome her back on the night, but singled out the Matildas’ sports science and medicine team for the work they’ve done to get her and the rest of the squad ready for these games.
“Relief is not the right word, but I’m really happy. I’m happy for her and the team,” Gustavsson said.
“The other thing I have to say, I brought the staff together afterwards here. My sports science and sports medicine team, if people know what they’ve gone through over the last month and the way they stayed focused, the way the communication skills, the individual plans for each player.