Coach Tony Gustavsson said there must be long-term investment in Australian women’s football, warning it was at a “crossroads moment” following its fourth-placed finish Saturday at the FIFA World Cup.
There was to be no consolation prize for the co-hosts in front of nearly 50,000 in Brisbane as it was soundly beaten 2-0 by Sweden in the third-place playoff.
But this was still the Matildas’ best World Cup ever and they have captivated the nation and won legions of new fans.
Gustavsson said now was the time to take full advantage of the surge in interest -- or see their exploits go to waste.
“We have a massive amount of work to do now to capitalise on this,” the Swede said.
“The next thing is investment -- long-term investment and not just a quick fix.
“A lot of these players are going to play in the Olympics (next summer) as well so we need to keep investing in these players and have a lot of other players knocking on the door wanting to be a part of it.
“But now there needs to be long-term investment to really make sure we really benefit from this crossroads moment in women’s football in this country.”
Australia came into the tournament 10th in the FIFA rankings and had never got beyond the quarter-finals before.
But the gulf in class told in a 3-1 semi-final defeat to England and Sweden, third in FIFA’s rankings, were also worthy winners.
Gustavsson felt his team overachieved despite disappointment on the night, with many of his players left in tears on the pitch at the end.
“It’s a massive achievement for these players considering the resources we have,” he said.
“When you compare the financial resources of the top-10 teams, in terms of how much return we get for our investment, to be able to break into the top four in the world is unique.
“I think that in some way these players have overachieved if you look at where the players play compared to the top-10 nations.”
Australia’s next assignment is the second round of Olympic qualifiers, which will be held in Perth in October.
Gustavsson said he wanted to a part of the campaign, despite being linked in the press to the vacant job with the United States, the holders who bowed out in the last 16.
“I love working with this team, it resonates with me as a coach,” Gustavsson said.
“I don’t see this as the end of the journey, I see it as the beginning of a journey.
“But I also want to be very clear: I want to see investment now, real investment that shows we are serious about what we do.”
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