Qantas Matildas Strengthen Ahead of WCQ
Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is building a squad with self-belief, consistency and structure.
Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni is building a squad with self-belief, consistency and structure ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers and beyond.
With some very promising results against quality opposition, Sermanni is not at all surprised by the results and attributes this to a number of factors.
"First of all, it is consistency," Sermanni said.
"We had a fairly consistent squad and starting 11 for the most part of last year so the players were getting into the habit of playing with each other."
"We get to play a fair amount of international games so we actually get used to the tempo of the games at international level against quality players and countries."
Sermanni said it is important for the Matildas to continue to improve and make an impact internationally.
Changing the team's past attitudes and boosting its confidence against stronger nations was part of the process, Sermanni said.
"We're hoping that we're going to keep chipping away and improving," he said.
"One of our philosophies is we need to go away from being a team that's content to go out and just have a good performance against better international countries, to a team that goes out to try and beat them."
"If we're going to make improvements internationally we have to start beating teams and making an impact somewhere - hopefully with that in mind our results with improve."
Player retainment was also an issue for the team with some players unable to commit to the massive demands of professional women's football in Australia for extended periods.
Australia has always been blessed with good young talent coming through the ranks, Sermanni said, but the key to team development was holding onto these players for years to come.
"We've always been fortunate there have been good young players coming through," he said.
"The problem has been in keeping players in game."
"There hasn't been a consistency of players playing for long periods, at the moment our national team's average age is 21."
"We've only got one player over 30 - Cheryl Salisbury - and the next oldest player is 26."
"We've generally always had the situation whereby young players have been coming into the system and at the moment we have five players who are Young Matildas."
"The key thing is for us to keep them in the game and get players to keep improving so we end up as an international team fairly mature age-wise."
"Hopefully in three or four years time the average age of the squad is 24/25. Building stability and keeping players in the game is essential."
As far as future matches for the Matildas, Sermanni said at this stage there were a few internationals on the cards, although they cannot yet be confirmed.
"Hopefully Mexico are coming out at the end of May," he said.
"We're hopefully playing some internationals at the end of May and we're hoping that they're in Melbourne, although it is not yet confirmed at this stage."
"Hopefully these internationals come off as they would give us good practice ahead of World Cup Qualifiers in July in Australia."
"That's our next key thing and that'll be fairly difficult for us."
"After that we're looking at going to tournament in Korea in October."
"They're the three major things in the calendar at the moment internationally but in the women's game things can crop up quite suddenly."
Sermanni said success on home soil in the Asian Football Championships (AFC) would help boost the game's profile in Australia.
He said playing at home was also a distinct advantage to the team with vocal home support and better recovery opportunity.
"I think hosting the AFC will help boost the sport's profile in the country," Sermanni said.
"Playing on home soil should give us a better opportunity to qualify as we don't have to travel."
"It will allow people to see probably the first serious women's competition in Australia since the Olympics."
Sermanni said the Matildas were among the top five contenders in the Asian Football Championships and had a realistic chance of beating every team.
"The main threats are China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan, as well as ourselves in Asia."
"To be honest there's very little between each of those countries."
"If they were looking at Australia they'd be saying we've got a very tough game here but we think we can win it and we'd be saying the same."
"Technically those four teams are a little slicker than us but competitively, physically we're a bit stronger than them and technically we are catching up."