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Matildas star Steph Catley says Australia must ‘get job done’ against Uzbekistan

Marco MonteverdeNCA NewsWire
Steph Catley and her Matildas teammates are preparing to meet Uzbekistan. Jonathan Ng
Camera IconSteph Catley and her Matildas teammates are preparing to meet Uzbekistan. Jonathan Ng Credit: News Corp Australia

Failing to qualify for the Olympics isn’t an option for the Matildas, who are desperate to prove they deserve to be considered one of the world’s best women’s football teams.

Fourth-placed finishes at last year’s World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics has the Australians intent going at least one better by finishing among the medals at this year’s Paris Games.

To have the chance to be on the dais, the Matildas must beat Uzbekistan over two legs, the first of which takes place in Tashkent on Saturday night.

“It’s hard to look too far ahead,” Matildas star Steph Catley said.

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“Our ultimate goal is to be at the Olympics, and we’ve got two games to make sure we do that.

“This team is always about … getting the most out of ourselves every step we go.

“These games against Uzbekistan are must-wins. That’s that aim. You can’t think too far ahead, but want to be at those Olympics, and this team needs to be there and needs to be competing with the best in the world.

“We’ve got to get that job done first, and then we’ll think for the rest of 2024.”

Catley was named captain of the Matildas squad in the absence of the injured Sam Kerr, who also won’t be at the Olympics if the Australians qualify after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.

She suffered a head knock playing for her club side Arsenal last weekend, but Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was confident Catley would be available for the first leg.

“It’s always a bit scary the last weekend before camp especially when you see a player get a knock like that and being taken off the field as well, but Arsenal have done a good job taking care of her, (and) our medical team have done a good job taking care of her,” Gustavsson said.

“She’s looking good in training now so no issues there.”

Gustavsson was not reveal his starting side for the first leg but promised the Matildas would be “true to who we are”.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the opposition but we’re going to bring our game and show who we are as a team,” he said.

“We’re always going to be a pressing team, (and) we’re going to be a high-octane energy team that likes to attack with numbers.”

Catley was confident the Matildas would be celebrating Olympics qualification at the conclusion of Wednesday night’s second leg at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

“We know if we all bring our best it will help control the result,” she said.

“These games can be quite frustrating some times of if they decided to play quite defensively.

“We don’t know that that’s going to happen but we’re preparing for all sorts of different situations.

“We just need to make sure we’re at our best on the ball, off the ball, bring the intensity, bring the confidence and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”

Catley wasn’t concerned by the prospect of extremely cold conditions in Tashkent despite the Matildas having been in camp this week in sunny Dubai.

“We’ve got a team that is very experienced and used to situations like that,” she said.

“We’ll just start mentally preparing for that, and then whatever the conditions are we’ll be ready.”

AFC WOMEN’S PARIS 2024 OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS – ROUND 3

Uzbekistan v Australia

Saturday, 8pm (AEDT)

Milliy Stadium, Tashkent

Broadcast: Network 10

Australia v Uzbekistan

Wednesday, 8pm (AEDT)

Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Broadcast: Network 10

Originally published as Matildas star Steph Catley says Australia must ‘get job done’ against Uzbekistan

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