Do we need to continue being patient with our Matildas?

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After the applause of a record crowd that was on hand to watch the Matildas play host to the USA at Stadium Australia on Saturday, many fans were left wondering about the progression of our golden girls.

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Heading into the encounter, hopes were high for a Matildas squad boasting its usual firepower across the park and it wouldn’t have been farfetched to say that they had an above average chance of exacting revenge on the ‘old enemy.’ 

However, it was confirmed post-game that a stomach bug had made its way through the group with many battling it right up until kick-off. Add in injuries, load management and a plethora of players arriving late due to domestic commitments and suddenly, the situation isn’t all too rosey. 

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It was this sentiment that was expressed in the press conference by head coach, Tony Gustavsson, a man who will start to feel the weight of expectation as we near an Asian Cup and home World Cup further down the line.

“It’s been a challenging camp with many players arriving late due to games in Europe,” he said. 

“We didn’t really get to train together as a team, so I was pretty pleased with how they responded in that sense. 

“Although, if we want to go deep in a World Cup campaign we will have to come up against these sorts of things.”

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In this sense, it’s hard to disagree with Gustavsson. It shines the light on a need for depth, especially at the back which has grown to become a serious Achilles heel for this squad of late.

Elsewhere, they possess a midfield and attack that is capable of matching it with any side in the world. It’s because of this that we have seen Gustavsson experiment at the back and after giving debuts to centre-back’s Jessika Nash (17) and Courtney Nevin (19) you have to think he is down to bare bones at the moment.

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Starting the two youngsters didn’t sit well with many pundits and fans alike and their thoughts were justified only seconds into the match.

Gustavsson was relatively positive post-match and although we want our girls to win and win well all time, maybe we have to take a leaf out of his book and practice this art they call patience.

“We have to look at every aspect defensively, we have conceded a lot of goals and I take ownership of that but I will turn over every stone as we move forward,” he said. 

“The girls will learn from today. I was very pleased with how they grew into the game as with the rest of the team. Games are won in 18-yard-boxes and today we didn’t do that but we will learn.

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“I am patient in this process because I’ve done it before and I’m confident that we will see the results we are after heading towards the Asian Cup next year.” 

With the bug now seemingly behind them and the expectation that we will see more experience return to the fold on Tuesday, maybe our assessment has come too soon. 

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Regardless, when we look at our backline that currently features a mix of ageing experience and youthfulness that will more than likely feature in a World Cup, we have to expect teething issues.

And it’s because of this, that as a nation, we have to remain patient.

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Joseph Esposito
A diploma graduated Sports Media student, currently studying Law. Football obsessed, covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the upcoming 2021/22 A-League season.

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