Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has named Emily van Egmond as Mary Fowler’s replacement ahead of his side’s Group B clash against Nigeria in Brisbane.
Fowler along with Aivi Luik was ruled out of the contest due to a concussion sustained during training.
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There was intrigue as to whether Gustavsson would shake up the shape of his squad to find the right formula amid the replacements on offer, with the veteran Van Egmond being given the nod.
Other than the change of Van Egmond in for Fowler, the Matildas’ starting line-up remains unchanged from the 11 who started against Ireland last Thursday.
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For Nigeria, Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatu Ayinde both return to the team after missing their opening game against Canada due to suspension.
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Australian football great Mark Schwarzer still finds it “difficult” to understand how two players could sustain concussions in separate incidents as the Matildas face a big selection call against Nigeria.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson sent shockwaves through the football community when he confirmed Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik would both miss the Nigeria clash due to concussion.
Although Luik is a squad member and is unlikely to play a large on-field role at the tournament, Fowler’s concussion was a bitter blow considering she started against Ireland.
Given the incidents happened so close to matchday, Schwarzer was baffled as to how Gustavsson could allow such incidents to occur during training.
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“I still try to find it difficult to wrap my head around the incident or supposed incidents, how that’s even possible that players would sustain two separate concussions at training,” Schwarzer told Optus Sport.
“I don’t really know how that’s possible. But supposedly, that’s the word.
“I think going forward for the Matildas, get this game over with, get the three points, get top of the group and be into the knockout stages and then look at the Canada game and try to put a team together as best you possibly can with the thought of the knockout stages already there.”
Typically, the session two days before a match-day is an intense one, with coach Gustavsson revealing the head knocks occured during a high-tempo eight vs eight training game.
“I totally understand that if you didn’t see the training, if I were you sitting out there, I would go, ‘What the heck is happening in trainings? Two concussions in one training and two players out of the game’,” Gustavsson said.
“But it was a completely normal training. Two days out you always have a high-intensity, medium-sized game. We played eight v eight. Everything was good … there was no physical contact and no teammates that were behind it. It was just pure bad luck, and two separate incidents. A bit unreal, to be honest – I never experienced anything like it.”
Matildas XI: Mackenzie Arnold; Ellie Carpenter, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley (c); Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Emily van Egmond; Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord, Cortnee Vine
Nigeria XI: Chiamaka Nnadozie; Ashleigh Plumptre, Osinachi Ohale; Blessing Demehin, Michelle Alozie; Toni Payne; Christy Ucheibe, Rasheedat Ajibade, Halimatu Ayinde; Ifeoma Onumonu, Uchenna Kanu
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