A League Football Liberty A-League Womens Matildas

The BIGGEST omission from the Matildas Asian Cup Squad

COMM Bank Matildas manager Tony Gustavsson has named his side for the upcoming Womens AFC Asian Cup starting, for the Matildas on the 21st of January. They kick off the competition against Indonesia at the Mumbai Football Arena in India.

The squad looks a little something like this:

Goalkeepers: Teagan Micah, Mackenzie Arnold, Lydia Williams

Backs: Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Charlotte Grant, Winonah Heatley, Aivi Luik, Courtney Nevin, Claire Polkinghorne, Karly Roestbakken

Midfield: Tameka Yallop, Clare Wheeler, Emily Van Egmond, Kyra Cooney-Cross,

Forwards: Sam Kerr, Kyah Simon, Remy Siemsen, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Hayley Raso, Holly McNamara, Courtney Vine

Looking at this squad it appears very light on midfielders, and you know who could’ve filled that gap, Mackenzie Hawkesby from Sydney FC. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy hes picked 7 domestically based players, but it easily could’ve been an eighth with the inclusion of Hawkesby.

Mackenzie Hawkesby of Sydney FC celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal during the round three A-League Womens match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix on December 19, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Now I’m not one to criticise Tony, oh wait, yes, I am. Since his time in charge, aside from a few good performances in the Olympics, most notably the win over Team Great Britain, the performance under Gustavsson have been very poor. The lead up to the Olympics was very underwhelming and the most recent 2 games against the USA were anything but positive. The 1st game we were absolutely blown off the park early and in the second game were lucky to grab a draw. Although it was pretty awesome hearing those fans in Newcastle celebrate when Kyah Simon put the ball into the back of the net. And no, I’m not forgetting the Brazil series were the Matildas blew them off the park in the first game and were pegged back for the draw in the second.

USA’s Ashley Hatch (l) celebrates scoring after 24 seconds in the win over the Matildas in Sydney. Credit: AAP

So, to see us going into a major tournament, one which I fully expect the Matildas to go all the way and win with only 4 midfielders is shocking. Now yes, I’m aware that a few of our forwards and backs can play a holding role in midfield, but when you have a women like Mackenzie Hawkesby absolutely playing out of her mind for Sydney FC in the Liberty A-League womens competition, you should be picking her. She’s easily been the best player in the league so far this season and its not even close. Sydney FC are sitting on top 4 points clear on the back of her amazing performances and for her to be overlooked is astounding and screams of a manager who can’t identify talent.

I hope for the Tillies sake that this selection error doesn’t affect them through the tournament, because let’s face it, if Alan Stajcic was in charge of this team there would be no doubt in my mind not only would he have picked Hawkesby in the team, but we’d also be a more balanced and tactically superior squad, and I would have no doubts over their chance at lifting the cup. But with coach Gustavsson, I’m very unsure of his tactical ability, and definitely sceptical of his selections for the squad.

Photo credit sportingnews.com/au

No matter who represents the Matildas at the Cup I will be 100% behind them, but you have got to feel for a player who literally couldn’t have done anymore to earn her spot, getting overlooked.

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