Canberra, July 31 : Australia coach Tony Gustavsson has admitted a group stage exit from the FIFA Women’s World Cup would be a “failure”.
Speaking on the eve of the Matildas’ do-or-die clash with Canada on Monday night, Gustavsson said his team was facing a “crossroads moment”.
The Matildas must beat Canada in Melbourne to guarantee progression to the round of 16 at their home World Cup and avoid a catastrophic early exit, Xinhua reported.
If Australia are eliminated, it would be the first time since 2003 that the Matildas have failed to reach the knockout stages, and would likely result in Gustavsson, who was appointed with a view to winning the World Cup, losing his job.
“I definitely think it’s fair to say it’s a failure if we don’t go out of the group,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s a massive game in that sense and we can’t shy away from that. This is a crossroads moment for sure.”
It remains unclear what role captain Sam Kerr will play for the Matildas against Canada.
The superstar striker on Saturday declared herself fit to play 10 days after suffering a calf injury in a major boost for Australia’s hopes and morale, but there has been no indication as to whether she will start.
Kerr, who missed the victory over Ireland and the defeat to Nigeria in Group B, was again seen with a compression bandage on her calf during the Matildas’ familiarization session at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Sunday.
Gustavsson said Kerr’s minutes needed to be balanced against the risk of re-aggravating the injury.
“We’re going to have a meeting tonight with the medical team and Sam and discuss what the possibilities are to play tomorrow,” he said.
“There’s a lot on the table to discuss, and we probably won’t know how exactly we’re going to use that until we’re coming into the stadium tomorrow.”
The 2023 Women’s World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, will see only the top two teams from each of the eight groups progress to the round of 16.
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