Gustavsson draws the line and lets Matildas rookies shine

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The Matildas; most people know who they are, along with the star-studded names that come with it, but what about their future?

Some of the youngest and newest arrivals to the squad such as Holly McNamara, Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine are changing the game and are doing it out of their usual positions.

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Take Cortnee Vine, her Matildas debut was one of the most anticipated following impressive performances in the A-League Women for Sydney. Vine didn’t play in the AFC Asian Cup opener against Indonesia but essentially broke the internet once she was subbed on in the following game against the Philippines.

On Friday morning against Thailand, the 23-year old was in the starting line-up along with McNamara and Siemsen.

Vine is making her own name with the Matildas, proving she can perform just about anywhere. The forward took on the role of right-back in the second half in their game against Thailand.

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Head coach, Tony Gustavsson, said she had an interesting player profile.

“She’s an expert out wide; taking a player on, one on one and I think she was one of the best attackers in the first half in this game,” he said.

“She was the one that created a lot on the right side.”

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Vine’s crosses were clinical along with finding any opportunity to run the ball up the right-hand side to create chances and she doesn’t hesitate against her opposition.

“Her pace and her decision making with the ball could be a backup solution in the outside back position for us,” Gustavsson said.

However, she isn’t the only one who’s playing out of their named position and Gustavsson puts the changes down to load management.

Gustavsson, with his team of sports scientists and data analysts, are working behind the scenes to ensure their players are protected and ready for the competition outside of the group stage.

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“We want to have a different profile of players but also because of the load. Ellie Carpenter had a yellow card going into this game and load wise; needed a rest,” he said.

“I feel really good about the management of the load in the group stage.”

The concerns among fans questioning why a centre-back is playing in a striker position or vice-versa can be put to rest as Gustavsson has hand-picked individual strengths and plans to make them of service for the team.

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This means no-one should be over or under-worked regardless if they’re in or out of their usual position.

As for Vine, the confidence of a player who is yet to play a full game of Matildas football is striking. Gustavsson said that fatigue played a role in his decision to sub her off, which only leads us to question what her role will be in their upcoming quarter-final against South Korea.

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Ash Ramos
Journalism student at Curtin University covering Perth Glory for the 2021/22 A-leagues season. Siuuu

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