Matildas fans left fuming over Charli Grant 'joke' amid heartbreaking call for Olympics

Tony Gustavsson has been called out over the shock omission.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson's job to pick an 18-player squad for the Olympic Games was never going to be easy. Quality players were always going to miss out but it was the non-selection of fullback Charli Grant that perhaps came as the biggest shock and left Aussie football fans more than a little disappointed.

Gustavsson had the unenviable task of having to cut five players from the 23-player squad that just tuned up for the Paris Games with a 2-0 win against China at a packed Accor Stadium in Sydney on Monday night. More than 76,000 fans turned out for the Matildas' final hit-out before the Olympics, in what was a home farewell for retiring goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who like Grant, missed out on the final 18-player squad for the Paris Games.

Pictured here, Matildas fullback Charli Grant missed out on selection for Australia's 18-player Olympic Games squad.
Matildas fullback Charli Grant missed out on selection for Australia's 18-player Olympic Games squad. Pic: Getty

The Matildas coach took some gambles by naming injured duo Katrina Gorry and striker Caitilin Foord, who missed Monday's friendly win over China with a hamstring strain. But it was the decision to leave out Grant that raised many eyebrows, with some fans labelling it a "joke" that a player that had done such a solid job at right back when first-choice Ellie Carpenter was out, could not make the squad.

Carpenter missed 12 months of action in the build-up to last year's World Cup with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and Grant shone in her absence. Grant's run included a memorable debut goal for the Matildas in a massive upset win over the mighty England in London, in the lead-up to last year's World Cup in which the Three Lionesses came runner-up.

Grant will still fly to Paris with the Matildas as one of four alternate players who could be parachuted into the 18-player squad if there are injuries. Courtney Nevin, retiring goalkeeper Williams and Sharn Freier are the other three alternate players in the squad. And there are certainly question marks around the likes of the sidelined Gorry, who was absent from the team's unveiling in Sydney on Tuesday.

The Matildas coach is confident his midfield general will be fit in time for Australia's group stage opener against Germany. "She is selected on where we hope and think she can be, come 25 July," Gustavsson said about Gorry. "Her progress is going positively, she's on track but there's always a question mark ... she's not playing football fully yet. Based on the conversations with her, we think she'll be in a good place come 25 July and even if she's not backing up her profile as a player, I need that in the Olympics."

The other major question mark is around Matildas forward Foord, whose selection is perhaps more understandable given the absence of superstar captain and striker Sam Kerr. While Foord was missing in the tune-up games against China, the Arsenal forward insisted it was part of a cautious approach following a World Cup campaign and a gruelling season with her club in England.

Seen here, Matildas duo Katrina Gorry and Caitlin Foord.
Matildas duo Katrina Gorry and Caitlin Foord are both heading to the Olympic Games under injury clouds. Pic: Getty

"It has been a long season and to be fair I've got through it pretty healthy," Foord said. "To pick up a little niggle it probably makes sense to put it down to a few things but (before Paris) I think my body is ready for a bit of rest."

Gustavsson has also indicated that the Olympics could be his swansong as Matildas coach, with the Swede coming off contract and being linked with a number of recent vacancies, including the US women's national team and an assistant job with the Swedish men's side. The Matildas coach says he and FA chief executive James Johnson would reassess his future after the Games.

"I think 'JJ' was clear a few months ago about the conversations that we had," Gustavsson said. "We said, 'let's respect the current contract, work through this Olympics and pick up that conversation post-Olympics'. As of right now, this is my last tournament but we've said let's have a dialogue post-tournament. What's important for me and the team is that we focus on what is in front of us."

GOALKEEPERS: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah.

DEFENDERS: Ellie Carpenter, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley (captain), Clare Polkinghorne, Kaitlyn Torpey.

MIDFIELDERS: Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Tameka Yallop, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler.

FORWARDS: Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Hayley Raso, Cortnee Vine, Michelle Heyman.

ALTERNATES: Lydia Williams, Courtney Nevin, Charlotte Grant, Sharn Freier.

with AAP