Steph Catley speaks out after Matildas dudded by venue detail for Olympic qualifier

The Matildas will face Uzbekistan at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night with one foot in the Olympics already.

Steph Catley and Matildas teammates at Marvel Stadium.
Steph Catley and the Matildas are playing at Marvel Stadium just four days after a Pink concert. Image: Getty

Steph Catley has played down concerns over the surface at Marvel Stadium ahead of the Matildas' Olympic qualifier against Uzbekistan on Wednesday night, however coach Tony Gustavsson has pinpointed a potential problem. The Matildas have one foot in the Olympics after a 3-0 win in Uzbekistan on Saturday, however they must complete the job in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Concerns have emerged about the surface to be used at Marvel Stadium after a Pink concert was held there just four days ago. The Matildas were hoping the match could be played at the MCG where 90,000 spectators could watch, but officials are trying to get the ground ready for the start of the AFL season after the Taylor Swift concerts last week.

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The Matildas will instead play at Marvel Stadium - but the same problem has arisen after the Pink shows. The venue played host to two concerts from the pop superstar last Friday and Saturday, with the ground being quickly packed down and turned around for Wednesday's match.

The playing surface at Marvel Stadium is well known for being hard during the AFL season, due to the fact it has a carpark underneath it. The stage for the Pink concerts started about 30cm behind the goal line, meaning it didn't directly sit on the area used for the pitch.

But there were some patchy spots spotted on the turf on Tuesday, especially at the end where there was a crowd. Catley and Gustavsson had a look at the pitch on Tuesday morning ahead of training there in the afternoon, and the pitch generally appeared in good condition.

The pitch at Marvel Stadium, pictured here during a Matildas training session.
A mark is seen on the pitch during a Matildas training session at Marvel Stadium. (AAPIMAGE)

Steph Catley addresses concerns over Marvel Stadium pitch

Catley played down concerns over how the Pink concerts would affect the surface, saying: "To be fair, I think it looks good. If you hadn't have told me there was a concert on it, Tony told me as well, I might not have known.

"I'm used to it being that hard, I think that's initially the first thing I think about is what footwear and it's pretty obvious because it is so hard. But yeah, it looks like it's in good nick - it'll probably be the opposite of what we've just played on (in Tashkent).

"So that might be a little bit of adjusting but I think in terms of playing good football, it's perfect and we've played on it before and it's something that we're absolutely used to. In terms of everything that we're overcoming for this trip that's probably quite low on the list. But yeah, I think everyone's just excited for a big crowd and it's a flat surface, it's a good surface, so we're ready to go."

Matildas players, pictured here during a training session at Marvel Stadium.
Matildas players warm up for a training session at Marvel Stadium. (Getty Images)

Tony Gustavsson pinpoints potential problem with Marvel Stadium

Gustavsson said the hard pitch would play to Australia's strengths, but he implored ground staff to give it plenty of water. "It's definitely a pitch we can play our football on," the coach said. "But I think it's extremely important that we water it a lot.

"Because right now the ball sticks in the grass as of right now when it's this dry. So we definitely need to water it a lot to get a fast surface that we can play fast football on."

Gustavsson's message was seemingly heard, with the pitch thoroughly watered before Tuesday afternoon's training. However plenty of pundits have questioned how the surface will respond after the concerts less than a week ago.

with AAP

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