Stajcic facing difficult decision

Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has the difficult decision of deciding which players will miss out on the squad that will play in the AFC U19 Women’s Championship in Wuhan, China.

Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has the difficult decision of deciding which players will miss out on the squad that will play in the AFC U19 Women-s Championship in Wuhan, China.

The squad departs in a week-s time for a pre-tournament camp in South Korea, but before then Stajcic has to decide on his 23-player squad that will be aiming to qualify for the 2010 FIFA U20 Women-s World Cup in Germany.

Stajcic put 24 players through his last main camp on the Gold Coast on the weekend and while he acknowledged it was another good camp, it-s going to be a tough call on who misses the plane to China.

“It-s been another good camp,” said Stajcic. “It-s going to a tough call (to decide who misses out), but I can only take 23 players, so the decision has to be made.

“We are just waiting on some injury reports, to see whether these players will be right to go or not.

“We have a final 2-day camp in Sydney, before we fly out to South Korea, where we will play two more games.”

The Westfield Young Matildas were in camp alongside their senior counterparts the Westfield Matildas while on the Gold Coast, which certainly helped the intensity levels and they more than held their own in a training match.

“We had a couple of games against the Gold Coast Under 15 Boys and also the Westfield Matildas and they played consistently, so I was pleased with that.

“We were competitive in both games and all parts of our game looked organised, both in attack and defence. To be competitive against the senior team was particularly pleasing.”

While not really wanting to elaborate on the final squad, with all being revealed shortly, Stajcic has been impressed with the way the girls have handled the process of camps and tour in the last few months.

“There maturity always impresses me but at the same time they are still young people and with that territory comes inconsistency.

“We get that inconsistency on the field and off it and that-s something hopefully they develop the older they get and the higher they get with the Westfield Matildas programs.

“It-s something that we work on and they work on everyday and it-s not easy, because they do train six, seven, eight times a week and try to balance their school work, touring, World Cup qualifiers, institutes and everything in their lives.

“So it-s not easy; it-s a constant battle and something we work on daily.”

One of the noticeable things with the final squad will be the number of younger girls that will make the final cut, with 7-8 girls that can potentially make the next Under 20 squad.

“Definitely the standard has improved, but every Young Matildas team that I can remember since 2002, the squads have always had about 7-8 players who have been eligible for the next squad as well and that-s no different with this squad.

“I guess a lack of depth across the whole country allows that to happen. Apart from those players actually being talented, we just don-t have 30 great players in each age group and that indicates we don-t really have enough depth yet to be a super power within each age group, so we have to go to younger players.

“However in saying that some of the younger players coming through are sensational and we have one young player - Teigan Allen, who is eligible for the next two. She is only 15, but she is physically ready, very tough on the field and probably one of the stronger girls in the team. She has the physical maturity and it-s just the tactical and technical of the game that she needs to work on, but she is pushing for a starting spot and so are a few of the other youngsters in the team to.

One of the biggest difficulties they face in China will be the climate, with playing conditions expected to be very hot and humid.

“Two big factors we have identified is the heat and the second is fitness. The two are closely linked and obviously the fitter you are the better you can deal with conditions and acclimatising to the heat as well.

“Italy (tour in May) was really good for us, it was 32-33 degrees when we were on tour; it was hotter than we expected and we played in the middle of the day, so we had to play and acclimatise to those conditions and then on the way back we purposely stopped off in Thailand for three days and it was 32 as well, but 60-70% humidity.

“Upon returning all the players have been put through a program where they are in heat chambers in their local institutes and during the several camps since that tour each player has undertaken 3-4 sessions in a heat chamber.

“That can be anywhere from 30-35 degrees and 60-80% humidity, so all the players are doing there little bit to stay acclimatised.

“We are also leaving 10 days before the tournament to go to South Korea and once again it will be part of their acclimatisation and preparation program, so we have done a lot of work to be fit enough and acclimatised enough.

“So not only are we physically ready, but the players know that mentally they will be able to adapt to the conditions and it won-t be a factor, rather than something that we are stressing about while we are there.”