Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has hinted he will resist the temptation of resting his biggest stars despite already sealing passage through to the next round of Olympic qualifying.
Australia’s 8-0 rout of the Philippines on Sunday, combined with the 2-0 win over Iran last Thursday, means the Matildas have little to play for in Wednesday night’s clash against Chinese Taipei, the world’s number-38-ranked side.
Gustavsson fielded a second-string XI against Iran before unleashing his strongest line-up against the Philippines.
Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord both scored hat-tricks in the rout, with rising star Mary Fowler and substitute Clare Wheeler also getting on the score sheet.
The three-day break between Sunday’s win over the Philippines and Wednesday’s clash with Chinese Taipei means Gustavsson will have some lengthy talks with his medical team before deciding on selection.
But Gustavsson says he’s eager to reward in-form players with a starting spot, and also better prepare them on how to handle a hectic schedule like the one they will face if they qualify for the Paris Olympics next year.
Australia need to win a two-legged play-off against a yet-to-be-decided Asian Confederation team in order to qualify for the Olympics.
“I said it straight away in the circle that they should be extremely proud about the performance but also that they need to be extremely professional when it comes to recovery, because this is also a rehearsal,” Gustavsson said.
“If you want to go all the way to the Olympics, this is how tight the games will be in an Olympics. Only 48 hours to recover and then another game comes up.
“So we need to be extremely professional.
“Physical and mental recovery is key now and then I’m probably going to have some really in-depth and tough discussions with my tech staff about how we line up the team on Wednesday.”
Gustavsson said the growing depth in his squad meant there would be some players who miss a spot in the starting XI despite being in form.
“The problem is that I have more than 10 starters now because there’s more than 10 players that actually deserve to start,” Gustavsson said.
“So that’s going to be the conversation. How are we going to start the game, how we’re going to finish the games?”
Cortnee Vine is almost certain to miss the match against Chinese Taipei after suffering a suspected hamstring injury in the win over the Philippines.
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