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Australia names Swede Gustavsson to lead its women’s team

Australia on Tuesday named Swede Tony Gustavsson, the former US women’s national team assistant coach, to lead the Matildas into the next World Cup on home soil, the third man to head the team in two years.

The Football Federation of Australia said Gustavsson, 47, would coach the women’s team to the delayed Tokyo Olympics next year, the Asia Cup in India in 2022 and the next World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

FFA CEO James Johnson said Gustavsson’s success in helping the US team win back-to-back world cups set him up to shepherd the Matildas into 2023.

“We believe that the combination of Tony’s persona and his experience make him the right person to help us do this,” he said.

Gustavsson played professionally for 15 years before a coaching career in both men’s and women’s teams. 

“I feel that my 21 years of coaching have put me in the position to be ready for this,” he said, citing the “pressure cooker” of leading teams on the world stage.

Gustavsson added he thinks the Matildas have the potential to be one of the best teams in the world.

He is contracted to coach Swedish club Hammarby until the end of 2020 and will oversee a proposed Matildas camp in Europe in November before formally taking over in January.

He succeeds Ante Milicic, who quit in July after just 18 months on the job in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back a year.

Milicic was appointed in February 2019 following the surprise sacking in controversial circumstances of Alen Stajcic and led the seventh-ranked Matildas’ to the 2019 World Cup round of 16.

The FFA dismissed Stajcic just months before the World Cup, citing concerns over “workplace” and “player welfare” issues, which the coach contested.

Australian media reports said the FFA had considered a number of women for the top Matildas’ coaching job, including Australian-based Italian coach Carolina Morace and Chelsea’s Emma Hayes, before choosing Gustavsson.

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