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Australia US games good Asian Cup prep: Gustavsson

19:10  30 november  2021
19:10  30 november  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Coach Tony Gustavsson is confident he got the answers he wanted from two testing and unconvincing performances against the United States in the Matildas' final hit-outs before January's Asian Cup.

Ellie Carpenter (l) says Australia 'need to be more clinical' than they were against the US. © Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS Ellie Carpenter (l) says Australia 'need to be more clinical' than they were against the US.

Australia lost Saturday's opening game against the world champions 3-0 in Sydney but salvaged a 1-1 draw in Newcastle on Tuesday night.

Gustavsson cited a tough preparation for the Olympics as crucial to reaching the final four in Tokyo and believed November's difficult friendlies would hold his charges in good stead in India.

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The Matildas are aiming to win the Asian Cup for the first time since Tom Sermanni coached them to their sole triumph in 2010.

"One of the reasons we (made it) to the semifinals in the Olympics was because of the preparation. Same thing here," Gustavsson said.

"So I'm extremely happy with all the answers that we got and I feel very, very confident leading into the Asian Cup, especially when we get the chance to download this game as well.

"We;ll get some individual answers from roster selection, getting some answers on where we are physically, tactically and all those kinds of things.

"So I'm very, very happy with these two games in terms of learning and getting one day better."

Poor defensive lapses peppered the US clashes and remain a concern, though Clare Polkinghorne missed both games and Alanna Kennedy only played on Tuesday on limited minutes.

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"We need to be clinical in our final third but then also aim for those clean sheets every game," defender Ellie Carpenter said.

"Obviously this is a good test against the world No.1, and we've seen in the last two games that we can't switch off for those lapses of concentration, especially in the final third, in our backline.

"(It's about) just tightening that up and I think these two games is a good test for us

"The first game we said 'this is like a World Cup final' (and were) putting that pressure on ourselves and we obviously didn't execute how we wanted to.

"But definitely two good games that we need to learn from and obviously tonight it was good to get the draw, building our confidence into the Asian Cup."

Teenage centre-back Courtney Nevin was excellent on Tuesday, while Clare Wheeler impressed when brought on as a No.6 in the 86th minute and made a brilliant challenge that led to the 88th-minute equaliser.

Gustavsson hailed Wheeler as a "game changer" but wouldn't be drawn on whether the 23-year-old should have been deployed earlier, noting he'd felt Australia had the momentum.

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