- Matildas ended their year on a sour note
- Suffered another defeat by Canada
- Steph Catley says poor form ‘sucks’
Steph Catley has admitted that the Matildas’ dismal end to 2023 ‘sucks’, with pressure mounting on Tony Gustavsson following another defeat to Canada.
Thrashed 5-0 last Saturday when fielding a second-string team, a near full-strength Matildas outfit again fell short on Wednesday in Vancouver, losing 1-0 to the reigning Olympic Games gold medallists.
While the Australians had a couple of second half chances, they rarely threatened in a lacklustre final outing of a year that was highlighted by them reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
‘We did something really significant and left a legacy in our country,’ Catley, who wore the captain’s armband in place of Sam Kerr, said.
‘It’s been a massive year for us and it kind of sucks to end on a bit of a low.’
The Matildas suffered another defeat to end their year on a sour note
Manager Tony Gustavsson is under pressure with questions over his recent decisions
Matildas coach Gustavsson’s desire for his side to adopt a new style of possession-based play to give them more versatility ahead of next year’s Olympic Games failed to reap rewards, with Canada rarely troubled in front of more than 48,000 fans.
‘We’re trying a few different things, a few different ways of playing, and sometimes it has growing pains,’ Catley said.
‘There are times in the game when we’re not controlling it but when we do it looks pretty good.’
As expected, Gustavsson fielded an almost entirely different 11 to the team that started in the embarrassing weekend loss.
Goalkeeper Teagan Micah was the only player to hold her spot, and that was only because of first-choice custodian Mackenzie Arnold’s injury enforced absence from the squad.
Apart from the absence of Arnold and skipper Sam Kerr – who also wasn’t named in the 23-strong series squad due to injury – Wednesday’s starting team was the Matildas’ best possible line-up.
However, despite Australia fielding a much stronger side, the Canadians were deserving winners.
Midfielder Quinn gave the hosts the lead in the 40th minute when she was first to react to a shot from teammate Kadeisha Buchanan that hit the crossbar after the Matildas failed to deal with a corner.
‘A set piece cost us and that’s not good enough from our team. There is lots to think about and improve on,’ Catley said.
The Matildas’ memorable World Cup led to Swedish mentor Gustavsson being linked with the US women’s national team job that has since been filled, and Sweden’s men national team’s coaching position.
Steph Catley admitted Australia’s poor recent results ‘suck’ in an honest admission
However, Gustavsson dismissed the ‘speculation’ despite reports he had held talks with the Swedish Football Association.
‘There’s always going to be speculation, especially when you do good things like the Matildas have done,’ he said.
‘I’m just focusing on the job I have. I’m focusing on the Matildas, and this preparation window has been massive for us.
‘I’ve had full commitment every single minute, and so have the players. This was a very good window for us and we learnt a lot.’
Gustavsson said that ‘for sure’ he would still be the Matildas coach for February’s two-legged Olympic Games qualifier against Uzbekistan.