Luik back in Matildas’ Asian Cup squad
Anna Harrington |
Aivi Luik is a surprise call-up for the Matildas as coach Tony Gustavsson sets his sights on Australia winning the Women’s Asian Cup for a second time.
The 36-year-old returns after retiring from international football following the Tokyo Olympics, but continues to play for Pomigliano in Italy’s Serie A.
Gustavsson pointed out calling up experienced midfielder/defender Luik was about delivering success at the Asian Cup and didn’t necessarily mean she was in the frame for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
“It’s about trying to get results in this tournament and winning the tournament,” Gustavsson said.
“We don’t want to do it at the expense of the development and tournament experience for young players, but it’s a very, very clear goal and typically a target to try to get a result because we haven’t won it since 2010.
“It’s one of those where I also need to look at what is the best team to bring to Asian Cup short-term.
“Yes, we will always have a little bit of an eye on the World Cup cycle as well, as you can see that there’s some young exciting players here as well.
“But at this point right now, specifically about Aivi, it’s just this tournament, nothing else.”
Sam Kerr once again headlines the 21 Matildas locked in for January’s tournament in India, while eight A-League Women players have been included in a 25-player travelling squad for a training camp in Dubai.
Melbourne City forward Holly McNamara and defender Winonah Heatley, Sydney FC star Cortnee Vine and Canberra United defender Karly Roestbakken will compete for the final two spots in the 23-player squad.
Gustavsson revealed Katrina Gorry, who recently returned to Brisbane Roar after giving birth to her first child, had been selected but turned down the call-up amid the difficulty of travelling to India with an infant.
Sydney FC midfielder Taylor Ray was also set for a call-up to the travelling party but was ruled out after she contracted COVID-19.
Uncapped forwards Vine and McNamara have been two of the ALW’s form players, with Gustavsson keen to test out the pacy, daring duo.
“We need one-on-one experts that are made to break down a parked bus potentially in some of those games,” Gustavsson said.
“(Vine) hasn’t been exposed to international level yet and she needs to come in our environment to see if she can bring the same game as she’s done in club land.”
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams is set to feature at a record sixth Asian Cup.
Australia play Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in the group stage, which starts on January 21.
Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah, Lydia Williams
Defenders: Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Charlotte Grant, Winonah Heatley*, Alanna Kennedy, Aivi Luik, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne, Karly Roestbakken*
Midfielders: Kyra Cooney-Cross, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop
Forwards: Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Holly McNamara*, Hayley Raso, Remy Siemsen, Kyah Simon, Cortnee Vine*
* Players competing for final two spotsAAP