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Tony Gustavsson dragged into Matildas drama amid Sweden links

The coach of the Matildas has addressed the speculation surrounding the team.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson (pictured left) has hit back at speculation over reports he is joining the Swedish national team after committing to taking the team to the Olympics. (Getty Images)
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson (pictured left) has hit back at speculation over reports he is joining the Swedish national team after committing to taking the team to the Olympics. (Getty Images)

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has hit back at speculation over reports he is joining the Swedish national team after confirming his commitment as he aims to take the team to the Olympics. Reports emerged linking Gustavsson to the head coach role for the men's team with current manager Janne Andersson on his way out.

Sportbladet journalist Daniel Kristoffersson reported Gustavsson met with the Swedish Football Association on "at least one occasion" and that a follow-up meeting has also been organised to discuss the vacant role. The report states the new manager will either be Gustavsson, BK Hacken boss Per-Mathias Høgmo or IF Elfsborg manager Jimmy Thelin.

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Gustavsson was an integral role to the Matildas' historic run to the World Cup semi-final earlier this year. The Matildas broke records in Australia on their way to a fourth place finish. And Gustavsson has alled any fears he is on the move having thrown his commitment behind the Matildas and their charge for a medal at the Olympics next year.

"I'm passionate about the Matildas and, as I have stated before, I'm fully focused on qualification and participation at the Paris 2024 Olympics," he said. "Our team's journey towards this goal is my primary focus and commitment."

Football Australia also shut down the speculation and claimed it wouldn't comment on the reports. "Regarding the future of Tony's contract post the Paris 2024 Olympics, discussions will be held at an appropriate time in the future," it added.

Tony Gustavsson shakes hands with Kyah Simon.
Tony Gustavsson (pictured) has reiterated his desire to take the Matildas to the Olympics next year. (Photo by Matt Roberts - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) (Matt Roberts - FIFA via Getty Images)

Matildas seek 2024 Olympics qualification

The Matildas easily moved through the second round of their Olympic qualifying campaign and are now gearing up to face the 50th-ranked Uzbekistan in February. To qualify for Paris 2024, the Matildas must beat Uzbekistan in a two-legged home-and-away play-off to secure one of the two spots given to Asian Confederation teams.

Ahead of the friendlies against Canada, Gustavsson reitereated how much he was enjoying his role as head coach of the Matildas. "But I've said it from day one - and it's a part of this job that there's always going to be speculations," he said.

Tony Gustavsson watches on.
Tony Gustavsson (pictured) is keen to take the Matildas to the Olympics. (Photo by Guo Lei/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images)

"What I really want to be clear on here though, so there's no misinterpretation on this one, is that I think everyone that has worked closely to me and seen me working with this team over these three years, know how passionate I am working with this team and how much I love this team.

"So I hope people that might have a different agenda - don't use this against me now and start saying, 'Hey, where's the loyalty? Does he really like working with this team?'" Gustavsson is still contracted to the Matildas, with his contract to expire following the Paris Olympics next year. The Swede took over from Ante Milicic as Matildas head coach in September 2020 and led the Matildas to a fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics and also to a fourth-place finish at the 2023 Women’s World Cup on home soil earlier this year.

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