Australia to harness home support in World Cup bid

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson said Thursday his team plan to use big home crowds as extra “fuel” to amplify their high-octane game as they look to stamp their mark on the Women’s World Cup. The Matildas meet world number five France in Melbourne on Friday in their final warm-up game in front of a sell-out 50,000-strong crowd — the largest ever on home soil for the women’s team.

The record won’t last, with more than 80,000 expected for their clash with Ireland in Sydney on July 20 to open the month-long tournament they are co-hosting with New Zealand.

Gustavsson said his side would fully harness the support of home fans. I think we look at it as fuel and we look at it as belief,” the Swedish coach said.

“(The big crowds) are a source of strength that this team will embrace, and I think also use when we play this high-octane, pressing, attacking-minded game. Star defender Ellie Carpenter, who will have an inside track on France with several of her Lyon teammates in their squad, is excited by playing in front of such large crowds.
Tomorrow you’re going to think ‘Woah, this is incredible,’ and then have in the back of your mind next week it’s going to be double this,” she said.

“That just gives me goosebumps, talking about it. But I think it’s going to be preparation mentally for us. I don’t think many of us have played in front of more than 50,000 or 60,000 people.”

Gustavsson said his line-up for France would be “good indicator” of how the co-hosts will start their World Cup opener against Ireland. It will be a good indicator of the starting line-up but also the finishing line-up (against Ireland),” he said. I’ve always talked about that -– it’s also about the game-changers.

“The one thing that will be different is because it’s a send-off game and the last friendly before the World Cup, I’m also going to consider any type of niggles and minutes played, because it’s all about the Ireland game.”

Tenth-ranked Australia have never progressed past the quarter-finals at seven Women’s World Cups, but are considered among the favourites, given home advantage and some strong recent results. That included beating Spain this year before stunning European champions England 2-0 away in April.

Source: eNCA

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