The Matildas 1-1 draw against Sweden is enough to take them out of the FIFA World Cup group stage, to the surprise of many, and now face heavy weights Brazil.
Proud Australian Coach Alen Stajcic commended his players form against Sweden saying that seven out of the starting eleven were aged between 20 and 22 saying that there were only three above the age of 22.
“It’s an amazing effort from a young group that shows such maturity and composure against seasoned professionals like Sweden, it was a tough game” Stajcic said.
Under Stajcic the Matildas have developed belief and knowledge and have proven that they can compete against the best and that they must do, having drawn Brazil in the next game in Moncton.
Stajcic puts their success down to the positive culture that has been developed both on and off the field, which has been demonstrated by their dynamic, energetic play in the group stages against the USA and Nigeria.
“Sweden had a few little passages of possession, but they barely created a chance I thought; just the knowledge and belief that what you’re doing is working and with such a young group there is so much growth and potential left for this World Cup”.
Australia appears to be riding a wave of success and Stajcic believes that any team that comes up against them in the knockout stage will be in for a big fight, including 7th ranked Brazil.
Stajcic believes that playing in the ‘group of death’ has battle hardened the squad and suggests that this has been good preparation for what is to come and prepared to fight against a number of teams good enough to make it through to the semi-finals.
“We’ve already played two Wold Cup finalists, so you may as well throw in another one,” joked Stajcic at the post Sweden match press conference.
Coming second in their group after the loss to the USA, Australia now faces Brazil after the South Americans topped their group defeating Korea Republic, Spain and Costa Rica.
Stajcic’s player starting philosophy of play well and continue to play well or else, may come back to haunt the Australians, but so far it seems that good preparation endures, however, it is still early stages and a rested Sam Kerr maybe more beneficial later on.
Stagcic hopes that the team can develop more sustained composure going into the next round, but admits that this fault is a trademark of a young team.
“That’s what you get with a young team, the up and down, up and down, but so long as the confidence and belief is there and you are working hard to improve day by day, which you can do with young players, you will get better and better,” he said.
Australia play Brazil at Moncton Stadium on the 21st June 14:00 local time
By Paul Brown