Stajcic confident of positive start
Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic is confident his team can get off to a positive start in their opening match of the AFC U19 Women’s Championships on Saturday against Japan in Wuhan, China.
Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic is confident his team can get off to a positive start in their opening match of the AFC U19 Women-s Championships on Saturday against Japan in Wuhan, China.
The squad arrived in Wuhan on Tuesday after a two-match series against Korea Republic and despite not winning either game, Stajcic remains positive his players can do the job.
“I-ve been confident for a long time regardless of who we picked in our last 23, the top 25 or 26 players have been with us for over 12 months now,” Stajcic said.
“It-s now just a matter of getting all the injuries right, staying fit, doing all the last minute preparations.”
Stajcic said the two games against Korea were good preparation and gave the girls a taste of what to expect in China.
“They were very valuable, as everyone got a run. They got extra internationals and its looking promising for tonight-s game.
“The players are excited and pumped up for a good start,” he said from the team hotel.
Australia-s opening game of the tournament against Japan couldn-t be any tougher and Stajcic knows the importance of getting off to a good start.
“We-ve got two tough games to start with in Japan and China and if you lose both you are out. So there is not a lot of time to warm up into the competition.
“Japan are very good, they were voted one of the best teams in last years U17-s World Cup, which is pretty much the same group of players.
“I-ve watched a few videos of them in that World Cup and they looked very good; they beat France 7-2 at that World Cup.
“But they still had some weaknesses and I think our girls can exploit some of those.
“As good as I know our team is though, I know all the other teams we-ll be playing against are of similar quality.”
One of the biggest things the girls have to overcome will be the conditions, which are expected to be very hot and humid. However Stajcic is not too concerned and thinks they will be ready.
“We-ve done all we can do; it-s still going to be a challenge, but we-ve done everything we can,” he said.
“We had the tour of Italy in summer conditions; we-ve done heat chamber sessions across Australia, but at the end of the day it will still be a difficult challenge. We have been here (in Asia) 10 days before playing our first game, so that-s enough time to acclimatise.
“It-s not as if Australians are immune to hot conditions, so I think the hotter it is at the end of the day it will be better for us, because I don-t think the other countries get to 38-s, 39 and 40-s like we do regularly in Australia.
“I know we will be fit enough if it does and strong enough to overpower everyone late in the game.”
Stajcic only has one injury concern with defender Alesha Clifford definitely out of the Japan game after twinging a hamstring. He is hopeful she will be right for Monday-s game against China.
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