By Sedara Philip
Australia and Sweden will be looking to put their semi-final defeats behind them and secure third place at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup on Saturday.
Co-hosts Australia are already guaranteed their best finish in a World Cup, while 2003 runners-up Sweden have come third three times.
Australia coach Tony Gustavsson said he would field his strongest side.
“I can’t pick based on emotions. This is a third-place game and we’re playing for a medal,” said Gustavsson.
“I’m going to make sure we have a line-up that is the strongest starting line-up we can have but also the strongest finishing line-up.
“It’s not about giving players experience just for the sake of giving experience.
“If it was emotional, those players [who have not featured yet] would play because they deserve to play. This is a game to win.”
Sweden lost to Germany in the 2003 final and finished third in 1991, 2011 and in 2019, when they beat England 2-1 in the third-place play-off.
The Swedes, ranked third in the world, lost 2-1 to Spain in their semi-final before Australia were beaten 3-1 by England.
Saturday’s match will take place at the 52,500-capacity Lang Park in Brisbane and Sweden forward Kosovare Asllani is relishing playing in a hostile atmosphere.
“I love it, it’s a particular feeling to have an entire stadium against you,” said Asllani.
“Of course, we were disappointed after the last match – we wanted to go all the way to the final.
“At the same time, playing for a medal is a huge thing, and something we’re proud of.
“We don’t want to leave here without it. We want to silence the stadium and bring that medal home. Everyone’s more than ready. We’re going to do everything we can to win this medal for Sweden.”
Australia thrashed Sweden 4-0 in Melbourne last November but will be without centre back Alanna Kennedy for a second match because of concussion symptoms.
Captain Sam Kerr said she was ready to play after scoring a stunning goal against England in her first start at the tournament following a calf injury.
“Honestly, it’s been amazing to just be a part of this journey,” said the Chelsea striker, who missed the group stage matches.
“If I hadn’t played one minute it still would have been the best moment of my career to be here because what we’ve achieved as a team is amazing.”
Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis’ prediction: “I think Australia will win this match and finish third in the World Cup.
“Sweden won’t have the desire to finish third again after being there before. Like England proved when they reached the third-place play-off in both 2015 and 2019, the first time around there is a real desire to win, but second time around, very much less so.
“Australia will want to go out on a high and although Sweden have real attacking options and are good at set-pieces, Sam Kerr will want to make up for the chances she missed in the semi-final when she could – and should – have scored a hat-trick against England.
“She’s not been able to play much in this tournament and will want to do it for her country. Prediction: Sweden 2-3 Australia, after extra time.”
Key stat: Sweden are unbeaten in their previous three games against Australia in the Women’s World Cup (won two, drew one).