Australia will face France in the last match before the Women’s World Cup

Australia secured a final test in the top 10 before launching a home bid to win the 2023 Women’s World Cup, closing out a clash with European powerhouses France a week before the start of the tournament.

Football Australia announced the match on Tuesday morning, with the teams set to face each other at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on July 14, just six days before Australia open their WWC campaign against the Republic of Ireland at Sydney’s Stadium Australia and nine days before France took on Jamaica at the Sydney Football Stadium.

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Previously announcing a meeting with reigning European champions England in April in London, meeting a French team currently ranked fifth best in the world by the FIFA World Rankings means the Australian women will have played every currently ranked nation in the top 10 bar North Korea (which is still ranked 10th despite not playing since 2019) following the arrival of Tony Gustavsson as head coach.

“A dynamic and technically brilliant team over the years, France have consistently been one of the best nations in the world, with incredible quality in every part of the game,” said Gustavsson. “It will be a final challenge for us just a few days before the World Cup debut.

“This ‘farewell match’ is an essential final piece of our two-year preparations for this home tournament. Playing against a great nation and World Cup contender in front of a big, boisterous Melbourne crowd will not only provide the team with a farewell they will remember and be inspired by, but it will give us a final taste of what to expect a few days later in our opening match.”

Arriving in Australia after serving as an assistant to Jill Ellis during the United States’ triumphant 2015 and 2019 tournaments, Gustavsson repeatedly emphasized the need for the Matildas to test themselves against the best in the world during their WWC home run, declaring that it was the that the side needed to shatter a glass ceiling in quarterfinal form at the Olympic and WWC levels.

However, a series of disastrous performances and results early on in that strategy, although sandwiched in the run-up to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, served to threaten the Swede’s employment. The pressure mounted ever more when a switch to “performance mode” failed to materialize as the Matildas were knocked out of the Asian Cup in the quarter-finals and reached their peak after back-to-back home defeats to Canada in September.

Recent results, however, have served to stabilize the ship; the Matildas are currently on a seven-match winning streak, including a 3-1 win over Denmark, a 4-0 thrashing of Sweden and a 3-2 win over Spain. Katrina Gorry’s continued reintegration into the team’s midfield, a move to a 4-4-2 with Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord playing a more central role and a greater degree of continuity in squad selection, among other factors, have all contributed to signs improved during this period.

But while Australia’s WWC trajectory is on the up, France’s preparations were thrown into chaos last Friday when captain Wendie Renard said she was pulling out of this year’s tournament to preserve her mental health. She was subsequently joined by Paris Saint-Germain duo Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani later that day.

According to a report by the French publication RMC Sport, Renard, who has 142 caps for the national team and is considered one of the best defenders in the world, will not play for the national team while Corinne Diacre continues as coach of the team.

“I love France more than anything, I’m not perfect, far from it, but I can no longer support the current system, which is far from the highest level requirements,” said Renard. said on social media.

In a statement, the French Football Federation (FFF), which is already reeling from allegations of “moral and sexual harassment” against its president Noel Le Graet, said it would look into the situation when its executive committee meets on Feb. but initially appeared to support Diacre, saying: “The FFF would like to reiterate that no individual is above the institution that is the France national team.”

However, reports emerged on Tuesday that Diacre, who has served as France coach since 2017, is set to step down next week – leaving European powers scrambling to find a new manager with just months to go before perhaps the last realistic chance. . has to capitalize on a current golden generation of talent in a WWC.

Diacre had previously drawn criticism from other players such as Gaetane Thiney and Sarah Bouhaddi for her coaching style and atmosphere within the team, and received criticism when she left record-breaking duo Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer out of her squad for the Women’s Cup. of UEFA 2022. Euro.

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