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2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Australia coach Tony Gustavsson hails team for showing heart, soul and passion

In a dazzling display of athleticism and determination, Australia women’s football team, known as the Matildas, secured a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-finals, following a pulsating penalty shootout victory against France 7-6. The event not only marked a tremendous victory for the team but also a paradigm shift in Australia’s football history.

The breathtaking performance saw Cortnee Vine net the clinching penalty, in what is being touted as a momentous event reminiscent of John Aloisi’s match-winning strike that took Australia men’s team to their first World Cup in over three decades in 2005. The Matildas’ groundbreaking achievement has surpassed any by the Socceroos on a global platform.

Reflecting on the match, the Matildas’ coach, Tony Gustavsson voiced his profound pride for the team, stressing the wider significance of this victory. “The amount of heart and soul and passion that this team showed tonight,” Gustavsson said. “There’s different ways of defining success but, for me, success is when you leave it all out there, no matter the result, you play with your heart and give it your best with the crest on your chest and the players did that tonight.

“That represents so much more than 90 minutes of football,” he continued. “The honour it shows to the (former Matildas), all the little kids that this team will inspire in the next generation, and then seeing the nation unite the way it did.”

Despite Vine being in the spotlight for her match-winning penalty, Gustavsson also praised goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who saved three penalties but missed the one that could have secured Australia the win before the shootout. Her eventual composure, according to Gustavsson, was a true testament to her mental fortitude.

“It was an emotional roller coaster for all of us. It was almost like it was written in the stars when Macca walks up to take the fifth… and then she hits the post,” he said. “For Macca, missing that penalty and then staying in the game and being that player that wins the game for us, it’s unheard of. I mean, that mental strength of hers.”

As the nation basks in the glory of Saturday’s victory, the Matildas are already looking ahead, gearing up for their semi-final match on August 16 (Wednesday) at Stadium Australia in Sydney. They will be up against the reigning European champions England.

“I think the number one thing is to embrace this historic night and feel that we are united,” Gustavsson said. “I know that they’re going to celebrate this one but from tomorrow they’re going to be focused again; they’re extremely professional and they’re on a mission.”

Published On:

Aug 12, 2023

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