The National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s competition received a huge boost following Westfield Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson’s 25 players selection to take part in its June international friendlies against Denmark and Sweden.
Blacktown Spartans duo of Courtney Nevin and Kyra Cooney-Cross as well as Illawarra Stingrays’ Caitlin Cooper will be flying the NPL NSW Women’s flag when they don the Green and Gold this month.
With over 400 matches of international experience combined, Australia vice-captain Steph Catley and centurion Elise Kellond-Knight spearhead a returning quintet of players – Catley, Kellond-Knight, Carpenter, Simon and Yallop – who assisted the team in qualifying for their fourth Games.
Westfield Young Matildas contingent Cooney-Cross, Nevin and Charlotte Grant all have the opportunity to join the 209 women who have represented Australia on the international stage. On the other end of the spectrum, veteran defender Caitlin Cooper earns another shot at a major tournament, while midfielders Amy Harrison and Alex Chidiac have been rewarded for strong domestic seasons in the Netherlands and in the Westfield W-League.
Following an extensive process of evaluation, Gustavsson is keen to begin working with the squad – half of whom he will meet for the first later in the month.
“I believe this group of players bring together some excellent qualities and I am really looking forward to seeing how they can come together,” said Gustavsson.
“We spoke about the April camp giving us questions and answers and, over the past couple of weeks, Mel and I have been working with the technical staff to find the players that we believe can address certain key questions. We have analysed the squad and identified the areas that require strengthening and players that have weapons to enhance the national team.”
With 50 days until Australia’s opening tournament match against New Zealand, Gustavsson emphasised the importance of team balance, building chemistry and maximising every moment until the July kick off.
“When it comes to building the roster, we need to ensure we have balance across the squad. We need different player types; we need depth in different positions and need some players that provide flexibility between the lines.”
“All of this means that difficult decisions had to be made, particularly in positions like the forwardline where there is an abundance of talent but limited positions. Unfortunately, that has meant some top quality players have not been selected this time around, however, the door is still open as football is unpredictable and we always need to be adaptable.”
“The focus of this camp will be on preparing ourselves for the opponents we will meet in 50 days. It is why we have chosen tough opponents in Denmark and Sweden. We need to observe, in a challenging environment, if the players called up can assist us in executing game plans that can be successful in July.”
“Finally, we will have a heavy emphasis on building chemistry on and off the pitch. Several of the players coming in have built strong relationships over years of close connection and we want to re-establish that rapport while cultivating new connections within the team,” he concluded.
The squad will arrive in Bastad, Sweden from 6 June before meeting world number 16, Denmark (11 June), and world number five, Sweden (16 June), in Horsnes and Kalmar, respectively. Full match details and broadcast details can be found below.
The Westfield Matildas are grouped alongside New Zealand, Sweden and United States for the Games with their first match against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand on 21 July.
|PLAYER NAME||POSITION||CLUB||CAPS (GOALS)|
|Mackenzie ARNOLD||Goalkeeper||West Ham United (ENG)||25 (0)|
|Laura BROCK||Defender||En Avant de Guingamp (FRA)||62 (2)|
|Ellie CARPENTER||Defender||Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)||41 (1)|
|Steph CATLEY||Defender||Arsenal FC (ENG)||82 (3)|
|Alex CHIDIAC||Midfielder||Uncontracted||17 (1)|
|Kyra COONEY-CROSS||Midfielder||Blacktown Spartans (AUS)||0 (0)|
|Caitlin COOPER||Defender||Illawarra Stingrays (AUS)||10 (2)|
|Caitlin FOORD||Forward||Arsenal FC (ENG)||85 (20)|
|Mary FOWLER||Forward||Montpellier (FRA)||6 (0)|
|Emily GIELNIK||Forward||Vittsjo GIK (SWE)||39 (10)|
|Beatrice GOAD||Defender||SV Meppen (GER)||2 (0)|
|Charlotte GRANT||Defender||FC Rosengård (SWE)||0 (0)|
|Amy HARRISON||Midfielder||PSV Eindhoven (NED)||13 (0)|
|Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT||Midfielder||Hammarby (SWE)||113 (2)|
|Alanna KENNEDY||Defender||Unattached||89 (7)|
|Sam KERR||Forward||Chelsea FC (ENG)||90 (42)|
|Aivi LUIK||Midfielder||Sevilla (ESP)||27 (0)|
|Teagan MICAH||Goalkeeper||IL Sandviken (ISL)||0 (0)|
|Courtney NEVIN||Defender||Blacktown Spartans||0 (0)|
|Clare POLKINGHORNE||Defender||Vittsjo GIK (SWE)||126 (10)|
|Hayley RASO||Forward||Everton FC (ENG)||48 (6)|
|Kyah SIMON||Forward||PSV Eindhoven (NED)||92 (26)|
|Emily VAN EGMOND||Midfielder||Unattached||99 (23)|
|Lydia WILLIAMS||Goalkeeper||Arsenal FC (ENG)||89 (0)|
|Tameka YALLOP||Midfielder||West Ham United (ENG)||87 (10)|