Believe in yourself. Trust the. It’s life or death. The Matildas enter their Olympic campaign with a simple Tony Gustavsson drilled into them. They’ll take into Wednesday’s opening match (10 pm kick-off AEST) against traditional rivals New Zealand. Training in the baking Tokyo heat on Tuesday, the Matildas were put through their paces for 90 minutes in an energy-sapping session — before Gustavsson dragged them into a circle and rammed his final message.
The eruption of applause after the coach finished spoke more about the squad’s optimism than any recent on-field results. Kayo is your ticket to the best local and international& On-Demand. New to Kayo? Try 14 days free now > “Any game in any big tournament, you’ve got to treat it as life and death,” said veteran Aivi Luik. “When you’re playing a rival like New Zealand and a longtime rival, you’ve got to go into the game 110%, and that’s what we’re going to do (on Wednesday).
“We’re already; we’ve been training hard, been prepping for a long time together. We’re waiting for that final whistle, in we go, and trust our game plan.” One thing is sure: Olympic. At 36, she’s the oldest member of the Matildas and admits she thought her Olympic hopes had evaporated after missing the boat in 2016 for the Rio Games. Indeed, her concerns rose to another level when Tokyo was postponed by 12 months due to Covid. But the veteran midfield-turned-defensive powerhouse will lead the defensive line for Gustavsson as the Matildas seek to tighten up at the back after some porous displays.
“It was always my goal to play in an Olympics eventually. Towards the, if I’m being honest, I had doubts — for obvious reasons,” Luik explained. “Missing out on the last one and having this Olympics pushed back another because of Covid, there were uncertainties.” TOKYO DAILY! Welcome to our new Olympic Games podcast. Matty us the lowdown on one of the world’s great cities that will host this year’s Olympic Games. Luik, a winner at every level in a career that’s taken her to success in the A-League and , had a weight lifted from her shoulders when she received her ticket to Tokyo. But it came with a tinge of sadness for those treading the path she’d walked when the Rio Olympics raged on.
“It was incredible. My initial reaction … I can’t put it into words,” she explained. “I was overjoyed, elated, really happy. In a sense, a small weight was lifted off my shoulders tojust the very first step of an Olympic campaign, making the squad. “At the same moment, I also had some sad emotions and feelings thinking of the girls who had gotten cut before I out I was in. That was pretty tough because I’ve been there before, and it’s tough. . Everyone wants to be in the Olympics, so to have a dream crushed at that moment is very hard.”