Tony Gustavsson has been appointed head of the Australian women’s football team for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and beyond.
Gustavsson has enjoyed a long and successful 21-year coaching career in both women’s and men’s football, playing a significant role in two World Cup title-winning campaigns with the United States women’s national team.
The 47-year-old was primary assistant to Jill Ellis as she lead the American side to victory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015 and France in 2019. He also has an Olympic gold medal to his name, having acted as assistant to Pia Sundhage’s US team at London 2012.
Gustavsson is set to manage the Matildas at Tokyo 2020, postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“Tony arrives at the Westfield Matildas and FFA (Football Association of Australia) boasting a wealth of experiences in the international game and a strong track record of success,” said Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson.
“Having worked closely with some of the best female footballers and coaches in the world and, through his time with the United States women’s national soccer team, he has developed an excellent understanding of what it takes to prepare for and perform in the intense, high-expectation environments of major international tournaments.
“We believe that in Tony, we have appointed a coach who will not only surpass the benchmarks and criteria we set as an organisation, but the standards that are expected by our players, football community and fans.”
Gustavsson replaces Ante Milicic, who stepped down in July after the postponement of Tokyo 2020. So far, Australia have played at seven FIFA Women’s World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 2007, 2011 and 2015. They have competed at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Rio 2016 Olympics, making the quarter-finals at the latter two Games.
So, how will the new coach approach the challenge?
“I feel that my 21 years of coaching have put me in the position to be ready for this,” he said during his first press conference as new Matildas coach, “It feels as if I have come to a moment where this is what I have been waiting for – to lead the Matildas for four years and also at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
“I have always said that the Matildas have the potential to be one of the best teams in the world and that is one of the reasons that I wanted to get on board with this job.
“I have been in the pressure cooker a lot of times and in environments that demand success. [But in the end] These experiences will be beneficial as we do this together with the fans, the stakeholders, the players, and the staff as a team.”
Finally, subject to COVID-19, Gustavsson will oversee a proposed Matildas camp in Europe in November, before formally starting his contract on January 1.