Ange Postecoglou's sad truth for Matildas as Tony Gustavsson sends message to PM

The respected Aussie coach's musings come amid a plea from the Matildas boss to the Australian government.

On the right is Ange Postecoglou and Tony Gustavsson with Sam Kerr on the left.
Tottenham manager and former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou admits he's unsure whether football will crack it in Australia despite the success of Tony Gustavsson's Matildas side. Pic: Getty

Former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has offered a worrying admission about football in Australia, despite the incredible impact of the Matildas' historic Women's World Cup campaign. The Matildas sold out stadiums around Australia and broke television broadcast records, with their semi-final clash with England the most watched sporting event in Australian history.

11.15 million viewers tuned in around the country to watch the blockbuster showdown, with an average of 7.13 million. The staggering figures broke the all-time record of 8.8 million who watched Cathy Freeman's iconic gold medal run in the 400m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, in what was an emphatic illustration of Matildas-mania that swept the nation during the women's football showpiece.

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Postecoglou also made history recently after becoming the first Australian to land a head coaching role in the English Premier League, making him one of the country's most high-profile figures in world football. Speaking after his Tottenham side's 2-0 win over English giants, Manchester United, Postecoglou still questioned whether football will ever "crack it" in Australia after being asked by a reporter post-game.

“I battle with that, mate. I really don’t know if we will ever crack Australia," the Spurs managed answered matter-of-factly. “I hope so. I think the Women’s World Cup was a brilliant tournament.

"The Premier League has always been the most watched league in Australia and now they have a vested interest, so that’s great. “How much of an impact (Postecoglou being Spurs manager will have)... I am not really sure.”

Postecoglou knows better than most about the struggles of football to gain a greater foothold in the Australian sporting landscape, despite being the most-played sport of young boys and girls around the country. There is no doubt the Matildas' incredible World Cup campaign - finishing fourth after making the last-four for the first time in history - will leave a lasting legacy on the sport in this country.

Prime Minister's $200m promise for women's sport in Australia

Just how significant that legacy will be largely rests in the hands of federal and state governments, with Prime Minster Anthony Albanese promising a $200 million boost for women's sport over the weekend. The PM said the success of the Matildas had "changed sport in Australia forever" and given us "a moment of national inspiration" as he announced funding for the Play Our Way program.

The investment comes after Matildas captain Sam Kerr called for more money to help develop grassroots football in Australia. Kerr's plea was also echoed by Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson, who suggested his future with the Green and Gold could hinge on the level of high-performance investment in the sport in Australia.

Gustavsson's name has been linked with the vacant US Women's National Team (USWNT) coaching post, following the sacking of Vlatko Andonovski in the wake of America's disappointing tournament. Two-time World Cup winner Jill Ellis pushed for her former assistant Gustavsson to take over the role, and Australia would be loathe to see the Swede leave after he helped mastermind the Matildas' best ever World Cup campaign.

Matildas coach pleads for more funding in Aussie football

Gustavsson did his best to sidestep questions about the vacant US job but admitted he needed investment in order to take the Matildas forward. "From a broader perspective ... I know the FA is keen on making an in-depth review of each tournament like they did after the Olympics, after the Asian Cup, that will be made now as well," Gustavsson said.

"In that review I think we're going to learn a lot about me as a coach, about the team, about preparation, about investment. What I can say is I love working with this team. It resonates with me as a coach; their identity and their why.

"And I've said it before, I don't see this as an end of a journey. I see it as a beginning of a journey. But I also want to be very clear that I want to see investment now, I really do. I want to see investment. And I mean like a real investment that we're serious about what we're doing."

Seen here, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson during the Women's World Cup.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has called on the federal government to provide greater funding the football in Australia.

Gustavsson pointed to the Matildas' introduction of a full-time goalkeeper coach, physiotherapist and sports scientist as key developments since he was appointed Australia coach, but maintains there is still much more that can be done to reach the levels of professionalism that a team like the USWNT are renowned for. He also called for more investment in youth international pathways to give our next generation of stars greater opportunities and resources to be able to step up to the senior side.

The funding announced by the Prime Minister will be available to upgrade facilities and provide equipment, specifically for women and girls, in a bid to get more into sport. The program will be available for all sports but given added weight to football, being the most played game in Australia, in terms of participation numbers.

with AAP

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