Matildas: Tony Gustavsson meets with Ange Postecoglou


Matildas mentor Tony Gustavsson has turned to super coach Ange Postecoglou for some “inspiration” in his bid to guide Australia to this year’s Olympic Games without the help of star striker Sam Kerr.

Gustavsson has named a 23-player squad – missing the injured Kerr – for this month’s two-legged, home-and-away Paris Olympics qualifier against Uzbekistan in Tashkent and Melbourne.

Kerr (knee) was one of three injured players not considered for selection, along with goalkeeper Lydia Williams (ankle) and defender Charlie Rule (hip).

Recalled to the squad after a six-year absence is veteran Canberra United striker Michelle Heyman, while Western United midfielder Chloe Logarzo also returns after failing in her bid to be picked for World Cup duty last year despite recovering from a serious knee injury.

“Selecting this squad has been a challenge with a lot of moving parts, from injuries to some players and reduction of competitive match minutes for other players due to off-seasons,” Gustavsson said.

“There’s been a lot of players fighting for spots here and a lot of players performing, so we tried to look at a combination of continuity and connections, people that know the way we play, that know each other, that’s been with us for a while.

“We also look at form and playing time.”

Gustavsson is also taking a look at himself as he bids to not only guide the Matildas over the Uzbekistan hurdle but also inspire the team to a medal in Paris after fourth-placed finishes at the World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics.

It’s one of the reasons he was due to visit former Socceroos coach and current Tottenham manager Postecoglou on Tuesday in London.

“Sometimes as a coach, it’s almost like a personal development trip as well to get some inspiration and insights, and Ange knows everything about the Australian landscape,” Gustavsson said.

“He’s had a phenomenal journey, and what he’s done with Spurs in terms of playing style, an identity and confidence from being a club and a team lacking confidence … is just tremendously impressive.

“We have been invited to watch training and then have a lunch with him, so I hope to get some experience from him and learn, interact and get inspired, and hopefully also watch a couple of things in training that they do that I can pick up.

“Sometimes it’s just going out there and getting some inspiration, and whether it’s about leadership or training content or hearing Ange’s experience about the journey in Australian football – I’m really looking forward to that.”

Gustavsson said he had no qualms about selecting 35-year-old Heyman in the absence of Chelsea star Kerr.

“With the way Michelle has played (for Canberra), she deserves to be selected – it’s purely on performance,” he said.

“For me, it’s not about age in a Matilda, it’s about the quality you have as a footballer.

“Whether you’re 17 or 35, it doesn’t matter. If you have the quality, you deserve to be selected and Heyman has played herself into this team.”

Matildas squad: Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham), Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyon), Steph Catley (c) (Arsenal), Kyra Cooney-Cross (Arsenal), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal), Mary Fowler (Manchester City), Katrina Gorry (West Ham), Charlotte Grant (Tottenham), Michelle Heyman (Canberra United), Clare Hunt (Paris Saint-Germain), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City), Chloe Logarzo (Western United), Aivi Luik (BK Häcken), Teagan Micah (Liverpool), Clare Polkinghorne (Kristianstads DFF), Hayley Raso (Real Madrid), Amy Sayer (Kristianstads DFF), Kaitlyn Torpey (San Diego Wave), Emily van Egmond (San Diego Wave), Cortnee Vine (Sydney FC), Clare Wheeler (Everton), Jada Whyman (Sydney FC), Tameka Yallop (Brisbane Roar).

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