Qualifying will be harder than World Cup
Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic believes that qualifying for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup will be harder than actually playing and doing well in the finals itself when they take place in Germany in 2010.
Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic believes that qualifying for the FIFA U20 Women-s World Cup will be harder than actually playing and doing well in the finals itself when they take place in Germany in 2010.
Stajcic agreed with recent statements by Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni that this current group is very talented and if they get to the World Cup finals, should do very well.
But getting there will not be easy, with only three places up for grabs and five countries that have reasonable chances of qualifying from the AFC U20 Women-s Championships that will be held in Wuhan, China in early August.
“I think qualifying will actually be harder than the actual World Cup for us,” Stajcic said from the team hotel in Sydney, where he has the girls for a four-day camp.
“It will be a tough battle and it will be a one-off game in a semi final or a 3rd/4th play-off to get there. You don-t have 10 games or a league format, it-s a one-off game and hopefully we-ll be firing on that day (if they can progress that far).”
The Westfield Young Matildas face a daunting task just to make the semi finals, with traditional powerhouses Japan and China, plus the ever-improving Chinese Taipei to negotiate past. They must finish in the top two of their group to make the semi finals, where three of the four teams will fight it out to go to Germany.
But Stajcic, like Sermanni is confident this team has the goods to qualify and if they do, believes anything is possible at the World Cup.
“There-s 7-8 girls that have been in (Westfield) Matildas squads already in this team and in the next 3-4 years I expect these players will make up a good portion of the Westfield Matildas.
“Obviously we want them to qualify, so they can get a World Cup under their belt and prepare them better for the Matildas down the track.
“There is a lot of talent in the team, but definitely qualifying will not be easy, as there is a lot of talent in the Japanese team, in the Chinese team, in the North and South Korean teams, while Thailand, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei have improved significantly as well, so they will be no pushovers as well.
“So yeah definitely, qualifying is going to be the hardest part for us.”
The squad recently undertook a three-week tour of Italy, where they played five games, including three full internationals, which saw them come through undefeated. However while Stajcic was ecstatic with the results, he says they still have a lot of work to do on their overall performances if they are to challenge strongly in Wuhan.
“I think the results (including a 3-0 win over World Cup hosts Germany) we obtained exceeded our expectations, but the performances didn-t and I still think we can improve our performances.
“It was a great learning curve for the players; we got to play four or five good games together; we got to practice our set pieces and organisation, our structure and our shape; practice the combination plays together and all the things that are important in the team.
“We gelled well on and off the field, so all in all it was a really pleasing trip, but there is still a lot of work to be done to improve our performances on a consistent level.”
The Sydney FC Westfield W-League Head Coach was particularly pleased with how the group gelled off the park, as that could be a key to performing well in these tournaments.
“They were excellent,” Stajcic said, when asked how the team gelled off the park.
“They are a good bunch of friends; they have there little groups but they are really good off the field; really disciplined.
“We-ve really focused on them being really disciplined off the field in all aspects of their life when combining school, work, social lives and all the other distractions that they have got.
“It-s very important they stay focused over the next four or five weeks, so we can all be at our peak when we go to China.”
The Westfield Young Matildas play at the AFC U20 Women-s Championship from August 1-12. They play three groups games against Japan (August1), China (August 3) and Chinese Taipei (August 5).