Matildas beat Spain with Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord in front

The form and system is similar to that of the Socceroos at the World Cup in Qatar – and Kerr even conjured up Graham Arnold in her post-game press conference, describing “Australian grit” as a key element of the Matildas’ team culture.

Gustavsson explained how in the November friendly against Sweden, playing Foord as number 10 behind Kerr in a 4-2-3-1 turned out to be an utter failure as they were ‘shredded’ too easily in the middle. They switched to two strikers, although they had never trained before and have not really regretted it.

Caitlin Foord celebrates her goal against Spain.

Caitlin Foord celebrates her goal against Spain.Credit:Getty

“When you see what they did in the 4-4-2 against Sweden you realize that as a national coach it’s all about finding the right place in the right place with the right attitude,” he said.

“If I tell them too much and give them too small a frame and pull over players like that, I don’t think we’re going to see what we saw tonight. Actually, what we saw tonight isn’t that I’m coaching Sam and Caitlin, it’s that I’m fortunate enough to put the right players in the right place with the right attitude, and that’s how it pays off.”


The Matildas are treating the Cup of Nations as a test run for the Women’s World Cup, with their second game in Group B against Canada likely to be the one that decides which team finishes first and an easier route through the K round of 16 against England.

In the second half at CommBank Stadium on Sunday, Spain turned the tables and scored twice as the Matildas withdrew and defended deep, and although they ultimately did enough to secure the three points, goals conceded took some of the shine off the performance .

“Everything we do now is about the World Cup, every scenario corresponds to what we might do in that situation,” Foord said.

“It’s annoying to concede a goal but at the end of the day if you tell me we’d beat Spain 3-2 I’ll take it.”


Attention now turns to Wednesday’s clash in Newcastle against Jamaica, where a win will see the Matildas lift the Cup of Nations.

“This is the top of the group. Of course we can win a trophy at the end, but we also see it as a group winner,” said Kerr.

“It sets us up for a nicer round of the World Cup instead of maybe facing England, so this is an important game.

“We’re not going to take our foot off the gas… You want to get into that mindset of lifting trophies.” Matildas beat Spain with Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord in front

Ryan Sederquist

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