The Matildas are set to play their first match since their amazing run at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which culminated with the Matildas falling just short of a medal.
With a number of key members from that Olympics squad missing, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has signalled his intent to start building towards the 2023 World Cup and beyond.
With experienced players Aivi Luik and Laura Brock announcing their retirement after the Tokyo Olympics, and stand-out players Ellie Carpenter, Kyah Simon and Hayley Raso missing out on the squad through injury, among others, the Matildas have lost over 300 games worth of international experience.
“Six of the players who played the most minutes in the Olympics are not even here, so that means there is a lot of openings and a lot of opportunities for others players to get game time and step in” said Gustavsson.
Matildas manager Tony Gustavsson has put out a squad that is a mixture of youth and experience, and is a real signal of his intent to build towards the future, and the 2023 World Cup, which will be played on home soil.
With the squad featuring six players who have yet to feature for the Matilda’s, there are almost certainly going to be a few new faces on the pitch against Ireland, with 18 year-old Jamilla Rankin being one of those new faces looking likely.
She is coming off the back of a stellar season for Brisbane Roar in the W-League which culminated in her winning the W-League’s young footballer of the year for 2021.
“This is a great opportunity for a lot of players to come in and experience our training environment and level of International football, just the fact that at that age she (Rankin) can come in and experience that age can come in and experience that training environment is the perfect first step.
“To see the intensity, the tempo and the professionalism, to meet the group, meet the experienced players and meet me as a coach.
“It’s a great experience in itself for a young player to come in and get to experience that, whether that means it’s also a bonus to also get some game-time or not.. we will see tomorrow.”
Tomorrow mornings match-up will be the first time the Matildas and Ireland have faced each other, with Ireland hoping to break a streak of four losses in a row, in preparation for their upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The game will also be captain Sam Kerr’s 100th match at International level, becoming only the 10th Matildas player to reach the milestone.
“What I do know with Ireland, and I think we’re going to see that tomorrow, it is a team that is very well organised and really fight hard for their team.
“It’s her 100th game and that’s a game that she’s going to remember for the rest of her life. We want to give her the best memory possible.”
“It’s going to be a physical game, a physical battle.”
The Matildas take on The Republic of Ireland tomorrow at 4am AEST.