Soccer: Tokyo-bound Matildas back in camp under new coach

·2 min read

(Reuters) - Australia's Matildas gathered for their first training camp in more than a year under new coach Tony Gustavsson on Monday to begin preparations for the Tokyo Olympics and, longer term, their bid to win the Women's World Cup on home soil in 2023.

The team's last match was the 2-1 qualifying victory over Vietnam in Cam Pha last March that secured a berth at the Olympics but much has changed since then.

Australia was named co-hosts of the next World Cup with New Zealand in June and Gustavsson, who helped the United States win back-to-back World Cup triumphs, was handed the head coach job some three months later.

The 23 women selected for the camp, who all play their club football in Europe and North America, got a first glimpse of what the Swede will be asking of them on a chilly day in central Netherlands.

"It was really fun, and good to see the way Tony sees the game a little bit and a little insight into what we can expect from him further down the track," said experienced defender Laura Brock.

"He's very positive and obviously ball oriented, and big on off-the-ball movement, so it'll be cool to see how that evolves into our games..."

One thing they can expect from Gustavsson is tough opponents, starting with reigning Olympic champions Germany in Wiesbaden on Saturday and 2019 World Cup finalists the Netherlands three days later.

"We need to understand how important it is for this squad to have as tough of a schedule as possible, that's one of the first things I said when I was appointed," Gustavsson told the team's official website.

"I could have gone down the route of thinking, let's just have an easy start as a new coach, get a couple of easy games, so we get some positive results and then get some belief.

"(But) we need to face more quality opponents ... with different playing styles, a new challenge every game."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)