The Swede arrives in the biggest year of his career with the jury still out.

There have been glimpses of what Australia have been capable of under Gustavsson, with last year's 4-0 thumping of his homeland and a convincing win over Brazil in 2021 particular highlights.

But there have been concerns too, including the disastrous Asian Cup loss to South Korea and last year's capitulation against Canada in Sydney.

Gustavsson has hammered home the need for his side to use the Cup of Nations tournament, which begins with a match against the Czechs on Thursday in Gosford, as a practice run for this year's World Cup.

"Everything we do now is like a World Cup rehearsal," Gustavsson said on Wednesday.

"It doesn't mean the focus is only on winning in that sense, but we need to train the tournament format.

"(We need to know) how to close that game out and quickly check in to something completely different tactically against Spain, and then the same thing (against Jamaica).

"Every opening game in a tournament is important because it kind of sets the tone for the tournament.

"We handle this game against Czechia in the same way as if it was Ireland (the Matildas' opening opponents in the World Cup)."

Gustavsson said three unnamed players would be unavailable for Thursday's encounter with the Czechs, who are ranked No. 28 in the world and haven't qualified for this year's World Cup.

The Matildas boss used his pre-match press conference to underline the need for players to be getting regular gametime at club level.

He claimed he had seven players in his squad who hadn't played a competitive game since their last camp in October and said those circumstances could alter his selection decisions.

"This is a challenge and that means I need to plan a little bit differently than I normally do going into a tournament like this," he said.

"We want to perform as good as we can but we want to have continuity and a consistent line-up, but also we need to be mindful of the minutes for players."

Gustavsson said he was buoyed by the form of Sam Kerr, who has hit top gear with club side Chelsea to net 10 goals in six games since the start of 2023.

"You could see that she had a slow start of the season, which didn't worry us," he added.

"She has played her way into form and she's coming into this camp with fantastic form and I hope she can keep showing that for the national team as well.