Matildas given massive Olympic Games boost amid huge England blow

England and Sweden have not qualified for the Paris Games in what is a huge boost to the Matildas chances of winning a maiden Olympic medal.

Pictured Matildas captain Sam Kerr left and Kerr and Mary Fowler celebrating a goal

The Matildas' chances of a maiden Olympic medal have just received a massive boost with the two teams that prevented them from getting a top-three place at this year's Women's World Cup, knocked out in qualifying. Germany and the Netherlands booked their places at Europe’s Women's Nations League finals this week where they will fight for their respective spots at the 2024 Olympics.

England's 6-0 drubbing of Scotland was not enough for them to reach the next stage of qualification after the Netherlands nabbed a 95th-minute goal courtesy of Damaris Egurrola to secure a 4-0 win, which meant they edged out England on goal difference in Group A1. Sweden also missed out on Olympic qualification after a 1-0 loss to Switzerland. The loss means Sweden won’t be at the Olympics for the first time since women’s football was introduced.

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Netherlands, France, Spain and Germany will now battle it out in the semi-finals in February, with the two winners qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. If France, who are guaranteed a place as hosts of Paris 2024, reach the final, whichever team wins the third-place playoff will also progress to the Olympics.

Aussie fans celebrated the fall of England and Sweden in the qualifiers, thrilled that they won't have to face the two sides who got the better of them at the Women's World Cup. England beat the Matildas 3-1 in the semi-finals, while Sweden beat the Aussies 2-0 in the third-place playoff and also defeated the Matildas in the group stage of the last Olympics.

Football world slams Matildas after back-to-back losses to Canada

Leading football pundit Andy Harper was scathing of the Matildas' 1-0 loss against Canada on Wednesday, days after being defeated by the same side 5-0. "The scoreboard was a marked improvement from the weekend, but in relative terms, was the performance that much better? I'm not quite sure," he said on Channel 10.

"For the best team we've got minus Mackenzie Arnold and Sam (Kerr), it was so flat, so unimaginative. We've been told that we're trying to re-engineer the way we play to take the team to the next level and that's understandable and fine, but the two-game window provided very little evidence of how that's gaining traction. Saturday's game is almost irrelevant now because none of those players got to feature again to see how they would go."

Pictured Tony Gustavsson left and Caitlin Foord being tackled by a Canada player in a friendly match right
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson suggested changes to the squad before the Matildas Olympics playoff against Uzbekistan in February are likely. Image: Getty

Former Matildas player Grace Gill said the Aussies can't afford to get ahead of themselves and start thinking about the Olympics. " It's not given. It's not granted that qualification is going to occur," she said.

"The Matildas can't get their eyes to the Olympics because they've got to get their eyes past Uzbekistan in the first instance. I think it'll feel like a disappointing result, not for the scoreline, but for the performance.

"When it came to the second half it looked like the Matildas became tired, they became leggy, and there could've been a few more changes to inject some energy into the team. I don't think we saw enough given the quality we lined up today. It's fair to say they dominated the game on balance."

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson post-match suggested changes to the squad before the Matildas Olympics playoff against Uzbekistan in February are still likely. "I have a pretty clear idea of the core group," he said. "But then there's some spots there that is up for grabs as well and it's up to players to now compete for it and show me that they want it and make it difficult for me - which I want them to do."

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