Edwards put pressure on senior players to perform

Qantas Young Matildas coach Alistair Edwards has put the pressure on his senior players to play to their full potential, if the team are to do well at the FIFA U/20 Women’s World Championships that start today in Russia.

Qantas Young Matildas coach Alistair Edwards has put the pressure on his senior players to play to their full potential, if they are to do well at the FIFA U/20 Women-s World Championships that start today in Russia.

Edwards believes that if Australia is to progress past their tough group, with the likes of captain Sally Shipard, Collette McCallum and Leah Blayney will need to be playing at the top of their game.

The Young Matildas kick-off their campaign at the World Championships later tonight when they take on arch rival and near neighbour New Zealand in St. Petersburg.

“Sally, Collette have been the standout players in the Matildas, and Kylie (Ledbrook), Leah and Lydia (Williams) were all in Adelaide. We do need those players to stand up there is no about it.”

“Lydia, in particular, in the training sessions has been absolutely fantastic.

“We are playing against the best players in the world and each team that we play against have got similar types of players. You can have the best tactics worked out; we can talk about the pressing game; talk about possession, but the fact is when we come down to it, we need our key players to perform.

“We need Sally; we need Collette, Kylie, Leah and Sasha (McDonnell) to really step up in these kind of games, if we want to get far.”

However Edwards would also like to see all his players go to the next level and the incentive for them is pressing initially for their places in the team at the World Championships, but the step up to the Qantas Matildas.

“I know that we are good enough to play against these other teams. We also need some other players to stand up, who haven-t been in the national team to step up as well.

“Realistically for us to get into the next round we need to have every player playing to their potential individually and also we need to be very, very tactically aware and prepared for these games.

“Brazil is a very, very good team and the Russians are an exceptional team and they are all talking about them being the favourites. To be honest it-s the same old story with Socceroos and Matildas, we are always coming in as massive underdogs which to be honest we all quite like that.”

Edwards will go into tonight-s match (10.00pm AEST) with all players available after initially worries that some might not overcome injuries sustained in Australia-s 3-0 training game loss to Canada on Sunday.

“There was a few doubts but everyone seems okay for the game,” Edwards said in a relieved sort of way.

The starting eleven is: Lydia Williams (gk); Clare Polkinghorne, Kim Carroll, Danielle Brogan, Olivia Kennedy; Leah Blayney, Kylie Ledbrook, Sally Shipard, Collette McCallum; Sasha McDonnell and Leena Khamis.

Edwards also believes the loss against Canada could actually be a blessing in disguise and a reality check for everyone involved.

“Most definitely,” was Edwards response when asked if the loss was a huge wake up call.

“The players really struggled for particularly the first half hour; it-s probably the worst we-ve ever played. As the game wore on we started to get back into it and surprisingly enough we played our best football when we had ten players, which was in the last 30 minutes.

“But since then the training sessions have been fantastic and I definitely think it has refocused everyone including myself, the staff and everyone here. It emphasized that we are playing against the best teams in the world and if we want to go out there and perform, we have to put on a much better performances than what we did against Canada.

“The training sessions have been unbelievably intense and its been fantastic. We-ve had a number of discussions since that game, a lot of sole searching, because we-ve had a lot of good preparation.

“To be honest the game against Canada was not good enough. I can say the players are very focused as a result of that.”

The Qantas Young Matildas match against New Zealand can be seen on SBS with delayed coverage starting at 11pm AEST, with the other group match between Brazil and Russia following Live @ 1pm.