‘Breakthrough year’ for Westfield Matildas, says coach Stajcic
The mastermind behind the Westfield Matildas' rise, head coach Alen Stajcic, says 2017 has been a breakthrough year – but he wants to finish the year with more success next week.
The national team will gather in Melbourne over the coming two days to begin preparations for two friendlies in Victoria against the exciting China PR on Wednesday night (AAMI Park) and in Geelong on Sunday.
Stajcic is well aware of the quality Bruno Bini’s China PR side has – but he wants the fans in Victoria to see first-hand what the Australians offer in terms of entertainment and quality after a massive 2017 that, in his words, has seen the team go to another level.
“I think it’s been a breakthrough year for a lot of reasons.
“Beating America [at the Tournament of Nations], first of all, was a massive achievement. It’s a monkey off the back.
“Knowing you can beat the number one team in the world – no amount of words can describe the amount of belief that it actually gives you as an individual and as a group,” he told https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.
On the back of the breakthrough Tournament of Nations win in July/August, two friendly victories over Brazil in September in NSW cemented the side’s popularity, while the rise of Sam Kerr as a superstar of world football continued.
“The sell-out crowd in Penrith and the huge crowd up at Newcastle shows what can be done in women’s football.
“To get so much crowd support breaks down a lot of myths about women’s sport, that it can’t get an audience or people won’t watch it when, in fact, people will be engaged to a good team, a positive team, an entertaining team and one that goes and plays in the right spirit.
“We’re very happy we’ve broken those barriers,” he said.
2017 has seen the Australians play exciting football but also get the results.
Now ranked world number six, it’s a heady mix but one that Stajcic has been working on for some time.
Though, as ever, the perfectionist Stajcic sees areas the team must improve on.
“For me, on the field, the performances have been good and are getting better. But also look at our performances in 2016. When you analyse the results, they’re almost identical. I think we’ve been heading on this trajectory for a long time now.
“We played nine games in 2016 and won five, drew three and lost one. We’re still tracking along the same path and it shows we’re getting some level of consistency.
“For us that’s the ultimate goal: to have a team that can display that kind of level throughout as many matches as possible and throughout an entire match, which we still haven’t perfected.
“Our starts in the last five matches, for example, haven’t been great and our finishes haven’t been great. Even though we’ve dominated most matches and most periods there is still a lot of work to be done for us to achieve our ultimate goal of being considered a world class team and being ranked inside the top three,” he added.