The Matildas won’t travel to Tokyo still in a nosedive but will enter the upcoming Olympic Games still searching for their first win under new coach Tony Gustavsson after a goalless draw with Swedenin Kalmar.
The result is the first time Gustavsson has avoided defeat in four attempts, finding some stability his last warm-up game before finalising his squad for the Olympics. Against his native country, the Matildas were more disciplined than their earlier defeats to Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany but still remained far from their best, looking little like the medal challengers many have expected they will be in Tokyo.
Sam Kerr looked to have regained some of the attacking flair that has made her one of the world’s most dangerous players despite being unable to break through against Sweden.Credit:Getty
Having been a isolated figure previously under the guidance of the Swedish coach, Kerr combined well with her teammates and set up Australia’s first chance. Half an hour into the match, her cutback gave Kyah Simon space to shoot inside the box but the PSV striker directed her attempt straight into the arms of goalkeeper Jennifer Falk.
There were signs of the Matildas’ defensive frailties still lingering but they went unpunished. Emily van Egmond’s poor pass across her back line gifted Sweden a chance inside the box but a wayward finish spared the blushes of the Australian midfielder.
Van Egmond was better going forward and created another chance in the second half. A sweeping ball forward picked out of the run of Simon, whose powerful shot from the edge of the area sailed narrowly over the bar.
The three-player back line of Australia looked vulnerable at times, exposed in transition and against the Swede’s quick attackers. Swedish captain Kosovare Asllani should have made the Matildas pay when she broke past their defence but hit the wrong side of the net from close range.
It was Kerr, however, who came the closest to breaking the deadlock. She rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot on the end of a solo run midway through the second half in what was the last clear opportunity for either side.
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