Changes needed for match against Norway

Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is likely to include several new faces for the match against Norway on Saturday night, despite the comprehensive win against Ghana in the opening match.

Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is likely to include several new faces for the match against Norway on Saturday night, despite the comprehensive win against Ghana in the opening match.

Two changes are likely to be enforced with key midfield pair of Jo Peters and Sally Shipard unlikely to play because of injury, while Sermanni gave a big hint that he might start speedsters Sarah Walsh and Lisa De Vanna on the bench, despite their eye-catching displays against Ghana.

The Scotsmen indicated that he will change things structurally to counter some of Norway-s strengths and the fact that he needs to keep people fresh in the exhausting conditions.

“We are certainly looking at changes,” said Sermanni, prior to training today. “I think one of the goods things we-ve got in this squad, is a great deal of flexibility and that I can bring in players and the team doesn-t necessarily lose any rhythm.

“We need to change structure slightly, to cope with a number of specific things that I think we need to nullify,” he said talking about Norway. “They play the ball out from the back very well and if we allow them to do that, they will start to dictate possession and the game.

“We certainly need to be more aware tactically of what we are doing in this game and have a specific plan to try and nullify them to play to our advantage.”

The loss of Peters and Shipard is a big blow, with Peters stretchered off with a knee injury against Ghana and Shipard injuring a toe. Both players injuries however are not as bad as first feared with Peters only have slight inflammation of the knee and Shipard, bad bruising of her toe that they initially feared was broken. Sermanni has several options, but will wait till after today-s training session to make a decision.

Asked who would come in, he remained fairly guarded, saying “Alicia Ferguson has been a regular in the team; we-ve got Danielle Small and Jo Burgess, who are probably unfortunate to miss out on a starting position and Lauren Colthorpe.

“So we-ve got several options there; I-m not quite sure which one-s we will use at this stage but we have confidence in whoever comes in, to do a good job.”

However the biggest surprise could be the choice of his starting strikers, especially with the way he wants to contain the Norway bringing the ball out from the back. Kate Gill, who did not play against Ghana, is fresh and keen to play and will provide a different and difficult proposition for the Norway defence with her height.

“They (Walsh and De Vanna) are just such a potent force to bring off the bench,” Sermanni said. “With the team playing its second game in three days in these conditions and against a particular team like Norway, who are even less used to these types of conditions than we are, we might put some fresh legs on to start with and see how the game progresses.

“We then have those weapons up our sleeve to bring into the game when people are maybe tiring a little bit.”

However no matter how he lines up his team, he has no doubt they will be in for a tough game against the world number 3 ranked team and one of four seeded teams at the tournament.

“I think its going to be really tough,” he said unequivocally. “Our last game against them I think was about eight years ago and things have changed a lot since then.

“We feel we are competitive going in against any team, but it-s going to be difficult. Norway are ranked third in the world; they are a good side; they-ve got some talented young players, so we are going to have to be on the top of our game.”

Sermanni also stressed that while the match against Ghana was a terrific win, he was concerned about areas of the teams play and that to beat Norway and Canada, improvements were needed.

“We spoke about two areas we need to improve on. The first was the defensive lapses that allowed Ghana to get in behind us too easily.

“Secondly, I thought our strikers did magnificent jobs with the timing and aggressiveness of their runs, their pace and they got themselves into great positions, but we said to them, when it comes to these other games, there is only going to be a couple of chances and we really need to try and finish them off.”

He is also not concerned about complacency after the big win and senses the girls will be up for their next two matches.

“We spoke about this after the other night and how we don-t want to be ‘one game wonders- and then sort of drifting off and everyone saying you won a game.

“We have achieved our first objective and our second objective is now to qualify from the group, so I think we are fairly focused on doing that.

“I think the players are now looking a lot more relaxed and you feel a greater degree of confidence about the place. We felt all along since we come into this tournament that if we can have a fit and healthy squad and our players can play to their ability then we-ve always felt we can progress from this group and that feeling is still there.”