The emergence of new talent and the addition of more high-quality friendly games under Tony Gustavsson have the Matildas better prepared for success at next week’s Women’s Asian Cup than they were for the Tokyo Olympics, according to experienced defender Alanna Kennedy.
- Australia are favourites to win their second Women’s Asian Cup after claiming the nation’s first title in 2010
- Defender Kennedy says the team’s rocky preparation, including friendlies against Brazil and the USA, has been beneficial for their overall progress
- The Matildas have lost the past two Asian Cup finals to Japan
Last August, the Matildas took their first major step under Gustavsson on the path to the home 2023 Women’s World Cup, making history by finishing fourth in Tokyo — the furthest any Australian team had progressed in an Olympic tournament.
They narrowly missed out on what could have been their first-ever medal with a 4-3 loss to the United States, who claimed the bronze.
Australia have played five friendlies since that tournament, including two matches on home soil against Brazil and reigning world champions USA.
Gustavsson has utilised those matches to inject new blood into Australia’s set-up, with fresh faces such as Remy Siemsen, Clare Wheeler, Courtney Nevin, Jessika Nash and Charlotte Grant all featuring under the Swede.
Despite winning just one of those post-Olympic friendlies, Kennedy says the whole squad is increasingly more in-tune with Gustavsson’s tactics and…