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  • Writer's pictureThomas Pombart

The burgeoning stars that should be in Tony Gustavsson's Asian Cup squad

Tony Gustavsson faces a severe headache in selecting his Matildas squad for the upcoming Women's Asian Cup.

It's a tournament Gustavsson should be aiming to win, and it's a title Australia have not brought home in 12 years.

The Tillies kick-off an exciting campaign with an opening clash against Indonesia.

Gustavsson is then pitted against former Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic, whilst Australia also faces Thailand in Group B.

With weaker opposition facing them on paper, Gustavsson must make a solid start to contend for a title in 2022.

After fine-tuning his plans across many games and possessing a hungry squad full of extreme quality, the pressure is on Gustavsson.

Many fans are worried about only two competitive wins across 2021 and a game plan recently extensively exposed by the world's best in the USA.

The Matildas struggled over a two-game series against the USA in November. (Thomas Pombart)

"This is who we are, this is what we're about, and we need to learn to do it better. We need to do that against the best teams because that is when you get exposed," Gustavsson said following the 3-0 loss to the USA in the first game of the series.

"If you don't play against the best teams, you might not get exposed to those kinds of scenarios. So there's going to be a lot of learnings tonight in terms of that."

Gustavsson may need to look at some new inclusions to help him achieve more consistency across the board, which he cannot currently reach.

FPF has broken down select players across various positions that the Swede should consider and possibly introduce or reintroduce to the Asian Cup squad for 2022.

Clare Wheeler

Wheeler dominated in the second match against the USA.

After a minute of action, she made a key tackle, complemented by a crucial pass that led to the dramatic late equaliser from Kyah Simon.

So far, Wheeler has scored three goals in 12 matches for Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark, highlighting her ability to provide timely goals from midfield.

She could become a key player when the tournament commences, as she tightened up her mistakes in midfield in her two short cameos against the USA.

Wheeler in action for the Matildas. (Getty Images)

Remy Siemsen

Siemsen has started the 2021-22 A-League Women's season strong, providing three goals in three games, with an average match rating of 8.04 per match.

Siemsen has mostly played in attack for Sydney FC this season.

But, similarly to Wheeler, Siemsen can play in midfield and tighten up the defensive issues the Matildas are facing.

She also featured against the USA but only notched up 10 minutes.

Siemsen celebrates scoring for Sydney FC in the A-League Women this season. (Getty Images)

Tara Andrews

Andrews has been an impressive performer for the Newcastle Jets across the last two seasons, scoring seven goals in 14 games.

Two goals against the Wellington Phoenix has Andrews equal third in the opening three games.

She has featured for Australia before, but not since 2015.

Her strong form since the start of the season could see her included in the 23-woman squad.

Andrews (centre, right) in training with some of her Newcastle Jets teammates. (Newcastle Herald)

Mackenzie Hawkesby

Hawkesby has made an impressive start to her 2021-22 campaign, with three direct goal involvements in three games.

Two assists and a goal, along with an average match rating of 8.39 per game, should have her on Gustavsson's radar.

Hawkesby's assists also mean that she leads the A-League Women's assist chart this season.

Primarily a midfielder, Hawkesby is another solid option that could provide extra support to the troublesome area Gustavsson must find a solution to quickly.

Hawkesby wheels away in celebration after scoring for Sydney FC in the A-League Women. (Getty Images)

Princess Ibini

Ibini is another forward who has impressively started her campaign.

She now has six goals in her last 17 games in the A-League Women's competition.

Ibini has also averaged 2.7 key passes per game, with two direct goal involvements in three matches to start the season.

An average match rating of 8.36 per game could see her return to the Matildas set-up for the first time since 2019.

Ibini made her Matildas debut in 2017, but has not featured since 2019. (Getty Images)

Rhianna Pollicina

Pollicina has averaged 3.3 key passes throughout the A-League Women season for Melbourne City, leading the charts and netting one goal and one assist across three matches.

She also has an average match rating of 7.77 per game and has scored three goals in her last 14 games.

Another creative midfielder who can score goals could fix the Matildas lack of cutting edge in the final third.

This problem has been persistent under Gustavsson.

Pollicina joined City in September ahead of the current A-League Women campaign. (Melbourne City FC)

The statistics presented throughout this article were taken from


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