Women's World Cup co-hosts Australia suffer another reality check

·2-min read

(Reuters) - Australia's 'Matildas' have suffered a second successive reality check in the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics after being put to the sword 5-0 by World Cup finalists the Netherlands on Tuesday, only three days after being hammered 5-2 by Germany.

Jill Roord‎, Lieke Martens, Jackie Groenen, Lineth Beerensteyn and Danielle‎ Van de Donk all netted for the hosts at a closed NEC Stadium in Nijmegen as Australia slumped to their worst defeat since a 5-0 loss to China in 2008.

The matches against Germany and the Netherlands were Australia's first internationals in over a year and the Matildas were unable to assemble their best squad due to logistical problems amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the team had not shipped five or more goals back-to-back in 26 years, and new coach Tony Gustavsson is already under pressure after two games in charge.

"I think he needs to adjust, I think he needs to change something because it’s just not good enough," former Australia striker and soccer pundit Michelle Heyman told Fox Sports.

Gustavsson conceded the defeats had impacted the team's confidence, but hopes the experience of playing top nations will hold Australia in good stead for the future.

"I could have gone the easy route... but we need to play tough games," he said. "We need to get exposure against top nations. Everything at this level is faster. This is next level when you play world-class teams. We need to get better."

Australia will co-host the Women's World Cup in 2023 with New Zealand and have ambitions of challenging the United States and Europe's top powers for global supremacy, but they have now failed to beat European opposition in nine straight games.

Captain Sam Kerr, Australia's most prolific striker, finished the tour goalless and managed only one shot at goal against the Netherlands, firing wide in the 81st minute.

Australia are among the 12 nations who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics soccer tournament, which starts on July 21, but Gustavsson played down his side's medal prospects.

"Time is one of the challenges... but we have a mindset that we're going to do everything within our power in this short time frame," Gustavsson said. "I need to... come up with a plan on the best path moving forward."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Additional reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)