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Matildas coach sought answers but has more questions

3 minute read

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said he was seeking answers but a 1-1 draw with China has thrown up more questions ahead of the Olympics.

TONY GUSTAVSSON. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Tony Gustavsson was looking for answers.

Instead, he found more questions from a Matildas mixed bag in their 1-1 draw with China on Friday night.

The big query is the fitness of star forward Caitlin Foord, who is nursing a hamstring injury.

Foord's importance for the looming Olympics can't be understated given Sam Kerr's unavailability due to a knee reconstruction.

But the Arsenal attacker is set to be sidelined for the Matildas' final hitout before the Paris Games, a Monday night re-match against China in Sydney.

"Hopefully it's not too serious," Gustavsson said post-match.

"But I can say now that if it's the slightest risk, there's no way I'm going to play a player like that in the second game because it's all about getting out of this camp without injuries."

Foord was brought on as a second-half substitute but lasted only 15 minutes before walking off Adelaide Oval.

The Matildas scraped a draw courtesy of a 95th minute equaliser from Michelle Heyman.

Gustavsson fielded an experimental starting line-up, hoping to find answers for what he said were four undecided positions in his 18-strong squad for the Olympics.

He rested a batch of stalwarts for the first half including Foord, Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter and Hayley Raso.

And the ramifications were obvious to the coach: an disjointed display.

"It's a mix of looking for answers," Gustavsson said.

"We had almost six different starting players than the most common starting line-up in the World Cup (last year).

"We wanted to evaluate players for selection.

"And that also influenced the game a little bit with a new relationship on right side, new relationship on left side, new centre midfield relationship - a lot of new new things.

"And I think you could see that as well. It wasn't as synced and connected as we normally see in a Matilda team."

When the big guns were summoned for the final 35 minutes, the Australians found cohesion.

"We had a bit of a challenge coming into this game," Gustavsson said.

"Some players that played in A-League hadn't played football for a very long time going into it, meaning you're not really in season and in form.

"Some (European-based) players are in the end of the season and coming in fatigued and tired from travelling, from playing.

"We needed to find the right balance and I am not using that as an excuse ... but that's how we felt as coaches.

"In the first half for some reason we actually looked a bit tired, not as aggressive that we can be ...we played way too slow."

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