Stajcic happy with growing depth
Alen Stajcic has highlighted building squad depth as the major positive to come from the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
With a host of players unavailable, the Westfield Matildas coach cast his net wide to fill out a squad for the tournament.
Western Sydney Wanderers striker Rachel Lowe was a late replacement for Emily Gielnik and made her international debut when she replaced Lisa de Vanna late in the 2-0 win over China PR.
“I am delighted for Rachel to get her first cap,” said Stajcic.
“In a big way, that's what this tournament is about, the big picture and keeping an eye on the depth of the team.
“As well as Rachel we've had Alex Chidiac, Hannah Brewer, and Emily Condon with us in Portugal and this experience will help build the depth of the squad for the future,” said Stajcic.
A FAMILIAR FOE
The 2-0 win over China - which completed an unbeaten pool stage - wasn’t enough to propel the Westfield Matildas into the tournament’s final with a four-goal winning margin required to reach the decider.
Instead, Australia will meet hosts Portugal for the second time in five days in the bronze medal match.
“We would have preferred to play a different opponent than Portugal,” admitted Stajcic.
“Only because we have already played Portugal here and it would have been a good experience for the team to play another nation.
“In our final game we'll give some of the players that haven't played as many minutes in the tournament game time,” he revealed.
ON TO THE NEXT
Following the Algarve Cup, the next assignment for Stajcic and his charges is the “farewell friendly” against Thailand in Perth on March 26th before they head to the Asian Cup in Jordan.
“We’ll come back to Australia and give the girls some time off,” said Stajcic.
“Some of the squad will gather in Canberra, and the others will be given a break to visit family and friends.
“It's been a big few weeks for many of the players – plenty jumped straight from the W-League Finals and Grand Final to this tournament in Portugal.
“We'll start camp in Perth on the 19th as our attention shifts solely to our preparation for the Asian Cup in Jordan.”
The Westfield Matildas' playoff against Portugal will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 501 from 1.55am AEDT.