Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 25 (ANI): Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson praised his side's ability to remain focused in their 4-0 AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 win against the Philippines on Monday.
Fresh from piling on 18 unanswered goals against Indonesia, the Matildas were kept at bay for 50 minutes by a spirited Philippines defence before their class ultimately produced a flurry of goals after half-time.
The result put Australia in the quarter-finals, with a draw or better against Thailand to confirm them as group winners on Thursday, while the Philippines are also likely to reach the knockout stage if they can defeat Indonesia.
Speaking after the first meeting between the two nations in 14 years, Gustavsson paid tribute to his team's ability to brush off an uninspired opening 45 minutes, which saw none of their 10 shots at goal hit the target.
"We knew this was going to be a very different game from the opening game, and I have to give a lot of credit to the Philippines," he said, after watching Sam Kerr, Emily van Egmond and Mary Fowler all find the scoresheet for the second game running.
"I think we were able to stay focused and not get frustrated. What can happen in a game like this is - when that many chances, like we did in the first half, and the stats say you should be up 3 to 4-0 and you don't get those goals - you can tend to sometimes lose your head and get frustrated."
"We talked about that at half-time and said, 'we focus on what we're doing, keep doing it and do it faster than in the first half' and the players came with a conviction and a confidence in the second half. They knew that, when the first goal comes, it's probably going to lead to a second and a third and a fourth, and so it did."
In-form van Egmond appeared in a deeper role than in the 18-0 win over Indonesia, but Gustavsson insisted his decision to use her in the holding midfield position at the expense of youngster Clare Wheeler was a match-specific move based on combatting their opponents' strengths.
"First of all, I have to say that Clare Wheeler was fantastic in the opening game as a holding midfielder, the way she dictated the game, (but) we have a long tournament. It's not just about one game," Gustavsson explained.
"We have different tools to use in different games, and we knew that the Philippines was going to kick long a lot. They never play out from the back and they take minimum risks in the build-up. I wanted to have (van Egmond's) aerial presence and I think she was dominating in the air today. The other thing is we knew it was going to compact in the central areas and we wanted to have her long range passing," he added. (ANI)