Dipping in and out of what he terms “Swinglish”, Australia’s Swedish coach Tony Gustavsson has warned his homeland that the Matildas have a point to prove after their Women’s World Cup semi-final defeat.
Gustavsson will coach against his country of birth for the fifth time in his tenure on Saturday in the unwanted third-place play-off.
While the Swede would have preferred to face off against good friend Peter Gerhardsson in Sunday’s final, Gustavsson said the Matildas want to make amends after being outthought and outfought in their 3-1 loss to England.
“These players don’t shy away from a tackle and neither do Sweden,” said Gustavsson, who has been linked to the US women’s national team role in recent days.
“It’s going to be a physical battle out there for sure.
“I’ve gotten to learn how to play against Sweden in tournaments.
“It is special, I have to say it really is, I have a lot of very good friends in that team both players and coaches.
“But when the game starts it’s 90 minutes of football and I know every single one of us whether it’s Sweden or us is going to do everything we can to win.”
A number of Matildas play club football in the Scandinavian nation, among them Hammarby’s Kyra Cooney-Cross and defender Clare Polkinghorne of Vittsjo.
Gustavsson has only beaten Sweden once, that victory coming in their most recent meeting in a 4-0 thrashing in Melbourne last November.
Gerhardsson, who revealed that he and Gustavsson had attended a Kings of Leon concert together at last year’s World Cup draw, spoke of the Australia boss in glowing terms.
“We were close to working together in 2008 when I was at Helsingborg and he was with Hammarby,” Gerhardsson said.
“I was close to becoming his assistant and we’ve kept in touch over the years.
“We’ve got a good relationship, he is a good lad, a good coach and he’s quite funny as well.”
Gustavsson, meanwhile, brushed off speculation that this could be his last game in charge of the Matildas given he has been endorsed to take charge of the US.
“It’s funny how this game works, a couple of weeks ago I was about to get sacked,” Gustavsson said.
“I lose tomorrow and I’m s**t again … I’m focused on one game at a time.”