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FFA makes clever choice with Gustavsson appointment

Football Federation Australia announced the appointment of Tony Gustavsson on Tuesday night, as head coach of the Matildas for the next four years.

The 47-year-old Swede will take up the role from the beginning of next year, with the chance to lead Australia’s most loved sporting team to World Cup success on home soil in 2023.

Before then he will have to prepare the current crop of Matildas stars for an Olympic campaign in Tokyo next year and an Asian Cup in India in 2022.

It is of little doubt, Gustavsson’s assignment is a very difficult one.

With four major tournaments (the final one being the Paris Olympics in 2024) in four years there will be a pressure to perform, as the FFA continue to prioritise women’s football in this country, to resurrect the overall outlook of the game.

But is he the right person for the job?

Initial impressions are positive, and on paper, the FFA seems to have made an astute appointment.

Gustavsson’s CV is well rounded with a deep knowledge of the women’s game.

His greatest achievements include winning two World Cups in 2015 and 2019, as an assistant to Jill Ellis for the US Women’s National Team (USWNT).

He was lauded as the “brains” behind the success of the USWNT in the subsequent World Cup victories, as his analytical and tactical execution was instrumental to their setup.

The newly-announced head coach of the Matildas also has an Olympic Gold Medal to his name, as an assistant in a USWNT squad led by Pia Sundhage in 2012.

In club coaching, he guided Swedish club Tyresö FF to the 2014 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final where they lost to German side VFL Wolfsburg.

Gustavsson’s extensive experience and familiarity in women’s football, his proven track record of success in major tournaments, alongside his willingness to maximise the potential of the current women’s squad, ticked a lot of boxes for the FFA and the panel charged with filling the vacant Matildas role.

“Having worked closely with some of the best female footballers and coaches in the world and, through his time with the USWNT, Tony has developed an excellent understanding of what it takes to prepare for and perform in the intense, high-expectation environments of major international tournaments,” FFA CEO James Johnson said.

“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.

“Throughout the process it was evident that Tony is eager to buy in to what we are working to build with the Westfield Matildas – a uniquely Australian team with a strong identity that is recognised as world class.”

While his impressive CV will contribute to the Matildas’ fortunes on the field, in his opening press conference he exuded enthusiasm for the project and presented himself as a passionate, colourful manager which will likely benefit the team off the pitch.

“To balance my passion (for the game and people), I also need to work with what I call ‘love and joy’,” Gustavsson said.

“Passion, love and joy.

“Love in the sense of loving the game, love to work with people, love the people for who they are but see them for who they can become.

“I want to create a culture where we embrace differences and work together every day to get one day better as an individual and as a team. Hopefully, together with the staff – I talked to the staff this morning and said, ‘without the staff, I’m nothing. I need the staff; I need a team behind the team; we need each other’ – and if everyone can bring their piece to the puzzle and we, together, make that puzzle beautiful, I think we can create a culture where everyone feels important and included.”

The question, of course, is how far can the Swede take this team?

He has spoken about having a proactive part in the process of producing the next batch of Matildas and with a governing body eager to invest in women’s football, it is a promising development for the long-term future.

But I’m sure the FFA realises the enormity of the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

It very well may be Australia’s best ever chance to win football’s biggest prize and optimisation for that tournament should be the main priority.

Will Gustavsson be able to deal with the expectation of a nation on his back at the World Cup?

The man himself doesn’t believe that will be an issue.

“I’ve experienced a lot of pressure throughout my career, both on the men’s and women’s side,” he said.

“I’ve been in that pressure cooker and know what it takes to deliver, when it means the most.”

As always, the proof will be in the pudding, but for now there is cautious optimism amongst Australian football circles around the appointment, which is refreshing to say the least.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

28 Australian Match Officials recognised by FIFA for 2022

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia's Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA's Panel of International Referees.

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia’s Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022.

The list includes Referees, Assistant referees, Futsal referees, and Video Match Officials – all of whom are enabled to officiate FIFA sanctioned tournaments and fixtures.

The list includes four new Australian match officials, featuring two match referees and two assistant referees. They are Daniel Elder and Adam Kersey from the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s competition, and assistant referees Lauren Hargrave and Kearney Robinson respectively.

With all officials becoming debutants on FIFA’s esteemed list, it serves as recognition on a worldwide scale.

Football Australian Chairman and Chair of Football Australia Referees Committee, Chris Nikou:

“Australian match officials have always been highly regarded within the global football landscape and it is pleasing to see that FIFA has continued to recognise this through the appointment of 28 Australians to the Panel of International Referees for 2022,” he said.

“Congratulations to the new additions to the panel in Daniel (Elder), Adam (Kersey), Lauren (Hargrave), and Kearney (Robinson).”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson:

“Refereeing remains a key focus for Football Australia, and it is pleasing to see Australian Match Officials once again recognised by FIFA. We congratulate all the 2022 Panel or their opportunity to represent Australian football on the global stage,” he said.“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ now just 11 months away and a home Women’s World Cup™ in 2023, it is an exciting time for Australian refereeing and football more broadly.”

Four other Australian match officials are also being acknowledged for their selection to officiate in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. Referees Casey Reibelt, Lara Lee, Kate Jacewicz, and Assistant Referee Joanna Charaktis will represent Australia in India over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, seasoned Australian referees Matthew Cream and Renae Coghill called time on their international refereeing careers at the end of 2021.

The full list of Australian Match Officials selected for FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022 is below:

Name

Role

FIFA International Since

Kurt AMS

Referee

2019

Jonathan BARREIRO

Referee

2019

Christopher BEATH

Referee

2011

Rebecca DURCAU

Referee

2017

Daniel ELDER

Referee

2022

Shaun EVANS

Referee

2017

Kate JACEWICZ

Referee

2011

Adam KERSEY

Referee

2022

Alexander KING

Referee

2020

Lara LEE

Referee

2019

Casey REIBELT

Referee

2014

Ashley BEECHAM

Assistant Referee

2013

Joanna CHARAKTIS

Assistant Referee

2019

Ryan GALLAGHER

Assistant Referee

2016

Owen GOLDRICK

Assistant Referee

2018

Lance GREENSHIELDS

Assistant Referee

2019

Lauren HARGRAVE

Assistant Referee

2022

Sarah HO

Assistant Referee

2004

George LAKRINDIS

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew LINDSAY

Assistant Referee

2019

Nathan MACDONALD

Assistant Referee

2012

Laura MOYA

Assistant Referee

2017

Kearney ROBINSON

Assistant Referee

2022

Anton SHCHETININ

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew BEST

Futsal Referee

2017

Jonathon MOORE

Futsal Referee

2018

Ryan SHEPHEARD

Futsal Referee

2009

Darius TURNER

Futsal Referee

2013

Note: Match Officials listed in bold are recognised as FIFA Video Match Officials (VMOs).

Football Queensland’s State Coaching Conference to return

Football Queensland has confirmed details of the State Coaching Conference, which will be held at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Football Queensland has confirmed the return of their State Coaching Conference, which will be held at the University of Queensland in Brisbane on Sunday, February 6, 2022. 

Hosted at the UQ St Lucia campus, the conference will bring together coaches from across Queensland and will feature guest speakers to deliver a combination of theoretical and practical sessions. 

FQ General Manager – Football and State Technical Director Gabor Ganczer, views the 2022 State Coaching Conference as a per welcome coaches from all levels of the game. 

“Following the success of the International Football Coaching Conference Australia (IFCCA) held in 2019, Football Queensland is delighted to once again deliver a fantastic development and learning opportunity for coaches with the conference to be held in February,” Ganczer said. 

“The 2022 State Coaching Conference will welcome coaches from across Queensland, with attendees to receive Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points and benefit from opportunities to network with fellow coaches and guest speakers in attendance. 

“Whether you’re just starting out on your coaching journey or are on the advanced coaching pathway, the State Coaching Conference will be a great way to prepare for the 2022 season.”  

Early bird registrations for the 2022 State Coaching Conference are now open. Click here to secure your spot now. 

KEY INFORMATION 

Date: Sunday, February 6, 2022
Venue: University of Queensland St Lucia Campus, Brisbane
Time: 9am-5pm
Cost: If purchased before Tuesday, 11 January (early bird offer) – $120
*If purchased after Tuesday, 11 January – $140 

Get your delegate pass here.

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