30/05/2024

Mary Fowler training in San Antonio ahead of the Matildas' friendly against Mexico. (Photo: Football Australia)

Matildas winger Mary Fowler admits she can have ‘more of an impact’ in a bid to go one better at the Paris Olympics and achieve a podium finish.

An integral part of Australia’s plans moving forward, the 21-year-old has blossomed onto the world stage to display a maturity well beyond her years – contributing 11 goals in all competitions since her induction as a teenager.

Tony Gustavsson’s squad have touched down in San Antonio, USA, to prepare for an international friendly tomorrow against Mexico at 10am AEDT.

Over the years, the Matildas have been well-known for their close relationships and unity within the playing group as Fowler commented on the positive vibes catching up with the team.

“It was nice being near the beach (with) a nice balance of having training and then having a little mental break, living in Manchester, so it was nice to have some sunshine,” Fowler said.

“(It’s) good to be back with the girls, being back around the team because it’s just different being at national team compared to club.

“Most of us have been spending a lot of time on the beach, but training’s been good and I think it always helps being in a nice place (when) everyone’s in a good mood.”

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When it comes to friendly fixtures, Gustavsson doesn’t have the best track record and the Swede has been criticised at times for his heavy experimentation and rotation.

A 7-0 loss to Spain two years ago as well as two defeats (5-0 and 1-0) to Canada in the space of four days in December raised a few eyebrows.

Yet again, the Matildas arrive at an international window with injuries to key players such as Clare Hunt and Katrina Gorry, with Mexico building some confidence after a shock 2-0 win against Concacaf rivals USA in the Gold Cup in February.

She may be young, but Fowler understands the challenges the Mexicans will throw at the Matildas, especially if they aren’t on their toes early.

“I think it’ll be a good game,” Fowler said.

“Mexico is a good opponent, one that you can’t underestimate. Looking at their recent games, they’ve performed really well and had some good results against top teams.

“(It will be) a good test for us to see where we’re at with our preparations and continue progressing with that. It really is the start of the Switch as a mindset to fully focus towards the Olympics.”

With so much more to grasp and learn with her whole career ahead of her, Fowler is planting her feet firmly on the ground and remaining humble as she aims to grow both on and off the pitch.

“I think it’s kind of stayed the same actually for me,” she admitted.

“(I’m) someone that is very journey orientated rather than just fixated on one moment, so I think for me and I always turn up to training and try to get the most out of it so that hasn’t changed.

“It’s just made me more excited to turn up each day to sessions and make sure that I am switched on from the get-go because I am just really excited for the chance to go to the Olympics again.”

Recently, the Manchester City forward has received more minutes in England where she is beginning to thrive alongside the likes of Khadija Shaw and Mary Kemp, a testament to Fowler’s attitude of having to wait for a consistent opportunity.

She opened up on her time spent at the club thus far.

“I do really like living there and we have a really nice team,” Fowler said.

“It’s been a change for me not being able to play as much as I’d probably hoped for but I think that’s part of it. That’s football. To see how that’s shaped me as a person has been nice and I think overall (I) just really enjoy being there.

“I have become a better player from joining that club and now I have the chance to be starting for them and I do see how much more prepared and mature I am as a player right now than I was compared to last season when I was getting to have some minutes.”

At the previous Olympics in Tokyo, the Matildas narrowly missed out on a medal in what was a devastating blow, but another learning experience to grow stronger.

Fowler was part of that squad, although this time around, she has tasted what it’s like to be exposed on the ultimate stage and feels better prepared to contribute significantly toward a deep run.

“I feel like I can bring more to the team this time (and) I think I’ve had the chance to show my inner value to the team over the last few years, more so than I did before the last Olympics.

“The last Olympics, I just felt really lucky to be there and I was just like, ‘Oh, everything’s so amazing,’ but I didn’t really see myself as a player who would be able to bring heaps to the team. If I sat on the bench for all of it and got one minute, I’d still be super happy.

“Whereas now I’m just very focused on going to the Olympics and trying to bring the qualities that I’ve shown in the last few years and try to bring that to that tournament for this team. I feel like I’ve shown a bit more (since then), and I’m a bit more mature in how I play, so I think I can have more of an impact this time around.”

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