South Africa the perfect test for Australia and Gustavsson

Pressure on Gustavsson? 'The results haven't been there' (0:49)

Joey Lynch tells The National Curriculum that he is fed up with the "excuses" Tony Gustavsson has been making as Matildas head coach. (0:49)

Looking to build momentum as they hurtle towards a home World Cup, a seemingly perfect challenge awaits Australia on Saturday in the form of recently crowned Women's Africa Cup of Nations champions South Africa.

On paper, this clash against a team ranked No. 54 in the world looks to be the ideal way for the Matildas to kick-start their run home, with an opportunity to also address the two key goals of "consistency" and "confidence."

It is the first international match held at Chelsea women's ground -- Kingsmeadow Stadium in London -- making it a home game for Matildas captain Sam Kerr, and, though this means that some of her Australia teammates will have to temporarily swallow their WSL club rivalries, the geographical advantage of staying in England is clear.

Instead of the bulk of the squad losing days to long-haul travel and then dealing with jet-lag, only two of the playing group, Larissa Crummer and Cortnee Vine, have had to make the trip from Australia for this camp, meaning coach Tony Gustavsson is able to utilise the window much more effectively. And with injuries again ruling out a number of regulars, he'll need every second.

Building depth has been a key component of Gustavsson's reign, albeit borne of necessity as, aside from the disappointing Women's Asian Cup campaign in January, when all the key starting players were available, injury has plagued the squad at every turn.

While that has been frustrating for the coach, it is the reality of international football and has given others the chance to stake their claim for a spot. With the absence of Emily van Egmond, Tameka Yallop, Clare Wheeler and Kyah Simon -- who this week joined Alanna Kennedy and Ellie Carpenter in the injury ward -- this is again an opportunity to test the Australia's depth before results become the only barometer of success.

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Matilda McNamara is the sole uncapped player in the squad for the October window and, while the 23-year-old would be relishing the call-up, fellow defender Sweden-based Emma Checker will definitely be hoping to get meaningful minutes in the backline after having had scant opportunity in previous outings.

With Steph Catley once more available, there is the potential to try her and Charli Grant as wing-backs on the left and right respectively, with Clare Polkinghorne, Courtney Nevin and perhaps Checker joining them in a reshuffled back line.

Katrina Gorry has been a standout in recent months and is an easy choice to command the midfield but just who will be tasked with joining her in the middle of the park remains a piece of the puzzle yet to be solved.

Chloe Logarzo is not long back from injury, but you can bet the house on her powering ahead in her quest to once more cement herself in this side, while Alex Chidiac as well as Kyra Cooney-Cross are also looking for a chance to impress.

Gustavsson is, as always, spoilt for choice in the final third and, despite an ACL injury to Simon, the return of Hayley Raso means he has a large contingent to pick from; fans will be keenly watching to see how he approaches the game against South Africa.

The Matildas showed promising signs of improvement in September, but they were nevertheless unable to close out either of two games against Canada in Australia; the general consensus is that they desperately need some wins, not just to quiet the rumblings among fans but also to give the playing group some confidence to build on.

The majority of the teams Australia have faced in the past 18 months have been superior in the world rankings, and, however you measure the validity of the ranking system, the experiences were flagged as a yardstick as to how Australia measured up.

Found wanting on most occasions, this clash against South Africa is a very different prospect and despite a far inferior ranking, Banyana Banyana are not to be taken lightly.

In playing a team from Africa, the Matildas will tick the final box of playing an opponent from every FIFA confederation over the past 18 months; however expect this opponent to be more unpredictable than most.

South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria and Morocco have qualified for the 2023 tournament, and the likelihood of Australia drawing a team from Africa in the group stage is highly likely. With the majority of the Australian side plying their trade in Europe and the collective having plenty of experience against the Americas and Asia, the opportunities to play against African opponents have only come in tournament mode, so this will be a valuable first friendly meeting between the Matildas and an African nation.

South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis will be well prepared. She was assistant coach to the first Banyana Banyana head coach, Vera Pauw, who was briefly touted as a contender for the Australian job ahead of Gustavsson's appointment, and is now heading up the Republic of Ireland -- who defeated Australia 3-2 in their friendly in September last year.

In addition to the experience gained assisting Pauw, Ellis is now a FIFA mentor, a three-time CAF Women's Coach of the Year, captained her country during a nine-year international career as a player, and cut her football teeth "playing with the boys" during the apartheid years in South Africa.

She'll have done her homework on the Australians, and certainly won't be respecting the rankings when this one kicks off.

With a match against Denmark to follow in the current window, then Sweden and Thailand to close out the year, Australia have a diverse range of opposition on which to test their progress.

And this test will show if they have learned to adapt to different approaches tactically, if they can nullify the strengths of varied opposition, and if they have the ability to step up and close out matches, before the world descends Down Under in 2023 for the biggest test of all.