Westfield Matildas coach still in limbo

Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is still a long way off knowing the make-up of his squad for next year’s AFC Women’s Cup qualifiers.

Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is still a long way off knowing the make-up of his squad for next year-s AFC Women-s Cup qualifiers. Having just completed another camp on the Gold Coast, the two-time coach of the Westfield Matildas, has been gazing his eyes over a large group of players, as he looks to future with next years squad.

Sermanni has been is holding a series of camps during 2009 rather than playing international matches and it has meant he has had the chance to observe quite a few players that he wouldn't normally see.

He also has had to do without his players that are part of the Westfield Young Matildas squad that is preparing for the AFC U19 Women-s Championships next month in China, although he was able to look at these players on the weekend when both teams were in camp up on the Gold Coast.

“It was good camp,” said Sermanni. “I-m still in a situation where I have more questions than answers in relation to where we are headed with the qualifiers next May.

“We basically had the bulk of the players who have gotten themselves into the squad through the Westfield W-League last year in the last couple of camps. It was good to have that group working solidly together and to have a look at them against each other.

“We also had the youth team (Westfield Young Matildas) in camp as well, as they are preparing for the AFC Championships next month. They had a game against us and played very well.”

While he still has more questions than answers at this stage, Sermanni is excited by the future.

“It does (excite me),” he said. “At times you wake up and you really relish the challenge and look forward to it and other times you find it a bit daunting, because you are thinking you need to make the right decisions here in relation to these players.

“It-s great to see the strength in the game across the board and the numbers of players we have got now that have put themselves in the frame for our national team. It-s also pleasing to see the numbers of players who are really committed to be part of the national team.

“When I think back and not too many years ago, when you were kind of battling to get players to understand what it took to being an international player; I think we-ve got over that hump now.

“I think all these players that we have coming into camp now are really focused on making the grade and really understand what it takes to be an international player and that-s a big step forward for us.”

Sermanni said if we didn-t have the Westfield W-League, he almost certainly would have had to play international matches this season, which given the circumstances around looking at a large group of players would not have been helpful.

“This is where the Westfield W-League has been a huge advantage. If we didn-t have the W-League, we would have had to have looked at international program of some significance, even during this sort of quiet year.

“But because we have the W-League; players off-shore in the USA and Europe and players who are heavily involved in Youth team qualifiers, it-s more valuable for us and I think the players themselves to actually be in an environment to be competing against each other and we are seeing from month to month which players are kicking on.

Sermanni said there were some risks of this strategy, but he has no doubt this is right one in the current climate.

“It-s a slightly risky strategy in a sense because you obviously want to play games as well, but if we mix that up with too many international games, we don-t get the type of training environment that I want to create for us first.

“At the moment the training and camp environment is more important I think than playing internationals. It-s also so hard and so expensive to get internationals and when we get to that stage when we play internationals I want it to be essentially with the squad I think is going to be the main squad for next May.”