Matildas coach 'not happy' over brutal dilemma ahead of Olympic Games playoff

Coach Tony Gustavsson could have a huge call to make.

Tony Gustavsson during the anthem and Mary Fowler hugs Caitlin Foord.
Tony Gustavsson (pictured left) faces a tough call to cut players from the Matildas squad if they qualify for the Paris Olympics. (Getty Images)

Coach Tony Gustavsson has claimed he isn't looking forward to culling the Matildas squad down to 18 players for their potential Olympics squad after such an impressive display overnight. Mary Fowler led Australia to a 3-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Paris Olympic qualifiers in Perth.

Fowler scored a rocket, in front of rumoured partner Nathan Cleary, as the Matildas set-up a two-leg clash against Uzbekistan in February. The Matildas and Gustavsson are confident they will qualify for the Olympics next year, but with the achievement comes a tough ask from the coach.

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Gustavsson gave time to 22 players in Perth for the qualification games to showcase the depth in women's football. However, he would need to cut the squad to 18 players if they qualify for Paris.

This would be a brutal blow for many of the Matildas stars who have featured in the Olympic qualification process. And Gustavsson admitted this was already a thought heading into the next qualifier.

"I'm happy with the development of players and development of the team, but I'm not happy when I think about potentially announcing the roster for the Olympics, because that's going to be a very, very tough job," Gustavsson said. "Considering how well this team is performing right now, it's going to be a very small chance to break into this team for people outside of it.

"That doesn't mean you can't come in but it's going to be difficult because we're performing very well." Considering Australia made it to the semi-final of the women's World Cup, it will be hard to see Gustavsson making many changes to the squad that could compete for gold next year.

The Matildas line-up for the national anthem.
Coach Tony Gustavsson has handed 22 players time during the Matildas qualifying campaign, but will need to cut the squad if they make the Paris Olympics. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Tony Gustavsson hails Matildas performance in qualifiers

The Matildas faced the prospect of facing the in-form Japan team to qualify for the Olympics. Japan were knocked out of the World Cup in the quarter-final in a 2-1 defeat to Sweden.

However, the Matildas will fancy their chances against Uzbekistan across two-legs next year. Japan will now face North Korea to qualify.

Mary Fowler applauds the crowd.
Mary Fowler (pictured) will be hoping the Matildas qualify for the Paris Olympics next year. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

And Gustavsson has not only been impressed with Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler's scoring exploits in the campaign, but also the defence. "Three clean sheets may be what I'm most happy about," Gustavsson said after the game in Perth. "When I came on board three years ago, everyone talked about this being a leaky defence and we needed to fix things.

"And these were three teams that parked the bus in transition, and you can be vulnerable in that. But we were clinical in our regains to win the ball back to stop the transition.

"We've kept 13 clean sheets over the last year now. And attacking-wise, I'm happy that we show more variation against the parked bus. There's more combination play, there's much more variation in this camp than before."

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