With a whiteboard and a marker pen, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has set about outlining his plans for Australia’s roadmap to winning the 2023 World Cup.
Drawing a circle within a circle, Gustavsson said the Matildas needed to be somewhere in the middle and manage internal and external expectations if they were to become world champions.
“In between the pressure from the inside and the outside is what I call the high-performance zone,” the animated Swede said.
“If you want to be part of a successful team that wins things you need to able to perform in thin air.
“If you want to be that team that can lift a trophy in 2023, you need to look at pressure as a privilege and not have heavy shoulders so to speak.”
Pressure has surrounded the Matildas as Gustavsson takes charge of his first game on home soil.
His side face Brazil in Sydney on Saturday, with Alanna Kennedy set to become the 11th player to win 100 caps for Australia’s national team.
Their 600-day wait for a homecoming has been overshadowed, however, with historical allegations of abuse and harassment from former captain Lisa De Vanna.
Gustavsson would have hoped for a better prelude to what he has termed a “new chapter” after the Matildas’ fourth-placed finish at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
He has promised a greater focus on attack, but has warned it’s one that might have a few growing pains.
“I wanted to use the September camp as a launching pad into a new journey. Right now we’re not where we need to be,” he said.
“I use the analogy of a golfer who is trying to learn a new swing. When they’re on the range they overthink things and they don’t play well.
“When they’ve got the new swing set they can go out and score better than they did before.
“We’re in that process right now, but we need to go through that growth process to be ready to lift the trophy in 2023, but we also can’t forget we have the (Asian) Cup coming up.”
Australia have enjoyed just one win – an extra-time victory over Great Britain at Tokyo – in their past six outings.
Their defence has been particularly porous, conceding 15 goals in that same period, but Gustavsson says the readjustment will be a slow burn.
“If I was a coach 15 years ago I’d park the bus and try and get a transition moment with Sam (Kerr) and score and win a game 1-0,” he added.
“But that’s not what our fans want to see. We want to be aggressive and score a lot of goals.
“We’ve showed we can score a lot of goals but (must) defend better without being conservative.
“Yes we’ve conceded a lot of goals. But if you want to criticise someone, that’s me. I’m putting the players through a process of preparation. It’s preparation to perform in the Asian Cup.”