Concluding an unforgettable 2023, the CommBank Matildas experienced a 1-0 loss in their second friendly against Canada.
In front of 48,112 fans at BC Place, the Matildas kicked off with enthusiasm, yet their initial vigor waned, resulting in a concession as Canada’s retiring legend Christine Sinclair deftly redirected Jessie Fleming’s corner to Kadeisha Buchanan.
Despite the defender’s shot hitting the bar, Quinn seized the moment, promptly nodding it home.
Canada seemed to extend their lead in the 43rd minute when Vanessa Gilles found the net, only for the goal to be disallowed due to a foul on Micah.
In a poignant moment, Sinclair bid farewell in the 58th minute, passing the captain’s armband to her successor, Schmidt.
Tameka Yallop, the sole substitution by Gustavsson, missed a pivotal chance to level the score in the 76th minute. A beautifully executed touch by Yallop, courtesy of a pass from Mary Fowler, didn’t translate into a goal as her shot failed to stay on target, concluding a challenging evening for the Matildas.
Stand-in skipper Steph Catley described the game as a “bit of a low” to end a year in which Australia reached the semi-finals of their home World Cup.
Following the match, Coach Tony Gustavsson said “We need to put things in a little bit of perspective”.
“It’s the end of ’23. A massive year for us. Tremendous World Cup,” he said.
“… October qualifiers was fantastic – the way we played, the way the players played and then we said ‘let’s use a development window here.’
“We can’t get carried away because the development window (had) two losses.
“We have important qualifiers coming up in February and I think there’s teams right now that are hurting more than us like an England and Sweden that are missing out on (qualifying for) the Olympics.
“This was two friendlies and we need to put that in perspective.”
When asked if he would be still be coaching the team next year, Gustavsson quipped: “Yeah, for sure. I mean – well, if I’m allowed to”, then stressed links to the Sweden men’s job were speculation.
“When you do good things like the Matildas have done, there’s always going to be speculations out there,” he said.
“And for me, I’m just focusing on the job I have.
“I’m focusing on the Matildas and this preparation window has been massive for us and I’ve had full commitment every single minute and so has the players and this was a very, very good window for us, and I learned a lot.”
Australia’s next match is set for February 2024 where they’ll go head-to-head with Uzbekistan in a two-legged playoff for a chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.