Matildas lock in first games in over a year against Germany and Netherlands

Debuts do not get much tougher than playing the two-time world and defending Olympic champions, but that is the challenge facing new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson after Football Australia announced a fixture against Germany next month.

The game in Wiesbaden on 11 April will be first time Gustavsson gets a chance to run the rule over his side since taking the reins of the national team in September last year – and the first time the Matildas have played for more than 12 months.

Australia will then meet the Netherlands – the 2019 World Cup runners-up and Fifa’s fourth-ranked team – three days later in Nijmegen to complete their international window schedule.

The last time Australia took to the field was in the 2-1 win over Vietnam last March that secured Olympic qualification, and the looming test against Germany, currently ranked second in the world, will serve as good preparation for the Tokyo Games starting in July.

Gustavsson will be joined in the dugout by Mel Andreatta, who will also make her debut as assistant in the new-look coaching set-up, and the Swede said finally getting his squad together after the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – and the calibre of opposition – was a fillip ahead of the Olympics.

“To secure two world class opponents for April speaks to the level of respect the Matildas have earned over the years and the commitment of the federation to ensure we have quality preparation,” said Gustavsson.

“These matches will be important tests for us as a team looking to build towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but also an opportunity to assess players on many levels.

“With the quality present in their teams, Germany and the Netherlands will challenge us in both attack and defence. However, the coaching staff and I are eager to see what we can learn about our team and set a platform for the coming months.”

“Testing ourselves early is important for our progression as a team and this international football schedule provides the chance to see how we can plot a path forward so we are best prepared ahead of Tokyo.”

Australia and Germany last met at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, when the spoils were shared in a thrilling match 2-2 draw that the Matildas were considered unlucky not to have won. One of the goalscorers that day in Sao Paulo – the in-form Sam Kerr – will be expected to lead out the side in April, but players based in Australia will not be eligible to be selected in the squad for the two-match tour, due to Covid safety protocols.

The Matildas have not met the Netherlands since suffering a 3-0 defeat in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup. The two matches will be Australia’s final games before they learn their fate in the Tokyo Olympic draw in Zurich on 21 April.