20 Sep Aussie boss wary of Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe
Australia manager Tony Gustavsson has namechecked Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe as Ireland’s threats ahead of Tuesday night’s women’s international friendly.
Crowds will get to see the women’s team at Tallaght Stadium for the first time in 18 months but they face an almighty test to halt their seven-game losing streak.
The Matildas are ranked 11 in the world, reached the semi-finals of the recent Olympics, and will be led by Chelsea striker Sam Kerr on her 100th cap.
Speaking after their final training session today, Gustavsson identified the players in the Irish team capable of causing them problems.
As the former assistant manager at world champions USA, he knows all about Denise O’Sullivan. The Cork player has been a revelation at National Women’s Soccer League kingpins North Carolina Courage.
Also sticking out for Gustavsson is Ireland captain Katie McCabe, a colleague at Arsenal of his goalkeeper Lydia Williams and defender Steph Catley.
“God, she can run!” he said of O’Sullivan. “And she also runs fast with the ball. She is definitely an attacking midfielder.
“We will see how Ireland use her in the match but she is one we’ll have to watch out for.
“Then there’s obviously (Katie) McCabe. Look at her left foot and her understanding of the game. She is teammates with a couple of our players at Arsenal.
“Again, we’ll see where they use her but her crosses and vision from that left side is something we’ll need to be aware of. That’s a phenomenal left foot she has.”
This friendly is the last run-out for Ireland ahead of their opening World Cup qualifier against Sweden on October 21, also at Tallaght.
A Swede himself, Gustavsson saw the latest evidence of his homeland’s strength when they beat his side twice at the Olympics on their way to a silver medal.
Asked about Vera Pauw’s team’s prospects against the side ranked second in the world, he wasn’t overly pessimistic about Ireland’s chances. Sweden beat Slovakia, seeded fourth in the group behind third seeds Ireland, 1-0 in their campaign opener over the weekend.
“If you look at the ranking between Sweden and Ireland, there is a gap there,” he noted about the 31-place chasm.
“But we’ve seen in the women’s game over the last few years that the gap between lower and higher ranked teams is getting closer.
“We will see on Tuesday from Ireland a team that is very well organised and will fight hard for their side. It will be a physical battle.
“In that sense, we saw some surprising results in the European section of the World Cup qualifiers. Some of the higher teams didn’t win or won by just a one-goal margin.
“That’s going to be an interesting match-up.
“When I haven’t played Ireland, it is difficult to say exactly what level they’re at.
“I’ve played against Sweden twice in the Olympics but I think the gap is closing in.”
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