‘Attack, play vertical’: Matildas to change personnel, not style against Canada


The Matildas are prepared to risk conceding goals in their second clash with Canada if it means nailing down their focus on building up in possession.

Australia relied heavily on springing counter attacks during their golden Women’s World Cup run.

But before this month’s friendlies, coach Tony Gustavsson said he wanted to develop their build-up play ahead of February’s Olympic qualifiers against Uzbekistan.

“We’ve also seen that we’ve struggled a little bit to play through lines, which means, come Olympics, we don’t want to be as predictable in our attack and we want to improve playing through,” he said.

“I try to stay away from (calling it a) possession style because we don’t just want to keep the ball for the sake of keeping the ball.

“We’re a goal-scoring machine that want to score a lot of goals and attack a lot and play vertical. This gives us the tools to be able to do that more often.”

Creating build-up play proved a difficult task in the opening 5-0 loss as Canada swept aside an experimental starting line-up, with the Matildas conceding three goals by being dispossessed in their own half.

“That mistake is on me. I knew we would push them to the limit,” Gustavsson said.

“We tried things in this game to see where we’re at and what that looks like.

“And I think the players committed to it so it’s a credit to them. If someone should be criticised, it should be me, I can take those hits.

“We struggled to get out of our own half a lot. But we chose not to just push up and go long and play a second-ball game.

“We chose to go all in, in that game and it cost us three goals and getting dispossessed in our own half.”

Final training session of the year

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A far more experienced starting line-up should prove a more tenacious opponent for Canada, who are sending off all-time leading international goal scorer Christine Sinclair, on Wednesday in Vancouver.

But Gustavsson will stick to his guns style-wise.

“It’ll be interesting to see if we can take that learning experience and improve, but it might cost some as well,” he said.

The Matildas will also need to cut out supply to in-form Canada striker Nichelle Prince, who scored a brace on Saturday.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“Maybe that’s our bogey player – the player that we struggle playing against,” Gustavsson said.

“But that’s what we’ll be exposed to: these fast-paced players that have the ability to break the backline with well-timed runs and good finishing.

“Normally the best way to stop them is actually to stop the pass that goes to her.

“Because once she does get that run she’s very difficult to stop.”

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