Soccer-Very good players will miss out on Olympics, Matildas coach says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 1:15 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said some very good players will miss out on this year’s Olympic tournament in Paris with the restriction on squad size leaving him unable to exploit the depth he has built up over the last few seasons.

The Swede named a 23-woman Australia squad on Wednesday for a friendly against Mexico in San Antonio, Texas in early April but will be restricted to 18 players for the Olympics in July and August.

“Our extremely challenging assignment over the coming months … is to narrow down on the final 18 players that will provide the best chance for success,” Gustavsson told reporters.

“Unfortunately, due to limited roster spots for the Olympics, that results in some very good players in strong form missing out on selection for … the Olympics.

“That those decisions will be difficult speaks to the genuine depth and competition for places that we have created over the past three years.”

Gustavsson led the Matildas to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics three years ago and to the same stage at the Women’s World Cup on home soil last year.

One of the heroes of the World Cup campaign, winger Cortnee Vine, returned to the squad after skipping last month’s Olympic qualifying ties against Uzbekistan for personal reasons.

Striker Sam Kerr was an expected absentee as she continues her recovery from the ACL injury that is likely to rule her out of the Olympics, while regular starting goalkeeper Lydia Williams missed out with an ankle injury.

The Matildas will also play two friendlies against China on home soil in late May and early June before their departure to prepare for the Olympics.

“The upcoming international against Mexico will see one eye on preparation mode against a quality opponent who recently defeated the United States, while also continuing to implement our evolving playing style,” Gustavsson added.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)