Grey skies did not deter what was a fantastic start to the Westfield Matildas’ first training camp of 2016 as Alen Stajic’s side utilised the artificial surfaces at Valentine Sports Park on what was a gloomy Tuesday afternoon.
The Westfield Matildas are taking part in an intense three-day training camp held at Football NSW headquarters, which has seen a number of its stars from not only the Westfield W-League but from overseas teams, take part.
German based midfielder Emily van Egmond attended the Westfield Matildas’ first training camp as the skilful number ten is currently back in Australia during the winter break of the Women’s Bundesliga, giving her the chance to spend some valuable time in camp less than two months before the Westfield Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers.
Van Egmond is one of 22 players selected by Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic for the three day training camp to be held at Football NSW headquarters, Valentine Sports Park.
Stajcic has been satisfied with the squad’s progress and improvement since their first camp back in early October, but not everything has gone to plan with a number of players falling to injury.
The past fortnight in particular has seen a number of setbacks. Stajcic confirmed Sydney FC midfielder Amy Harrison will need a knee reconstruction and faces up to a year out from an injury she suffered late on in Sydney FC’s win over Melbourne Victory on 27 December.
Forward Caitlin Foord is another facing a stint on the sidelines after breaking her collarbone, while Melbourne City FC midfielder Aivi Luik suffered concussion last weekend and is also unavailable for the camp. Sam Kerr is another on the unavailable list as she continues her rehabilitation from an ankle injury.
But if there is anything good to come out of players out injured, it opens up opportunities for others with Brisbane Roar duo Emily Gielnik and Angela Beard named to come in for the training camp.
Gielnik has made seven appearances for the Westfield Matildas, the last of which came in 2013, while for the uncapped Beard, it is reward for some outstanding form in the Westfield W-League which saw her named the NAB Young Player of the Month for November.
Stajcic, who has been a keen observer during all matches of the Westfield W-League, believes the standard has improved as the weeks have gone on and that there are a host of players in the mix for the final squad of 20 for the Olympic qualifying tournament.
“I think we’re progressing really well. The longer the competition (Westfield W-League) goes, the more and more the girls that have been coming into camp have been standing up which is pleasing,” said Stajcic.
“But there is still a big competition for spots, and trying to narrow them down to just 17 field players is going to be extremely difficult.”
“We’ve still got a long way to settle who is going to go and who’s not going to go. This is our last camp during the actual W-League season, then we’ve got one leading into the semi-finals, and then February is really crunch time where we’re together for three straight weeks before we go to Japan.”
The Olympic qualifying tournament will take place in Osaka, Japan from 29 February – 9 March 2016.
The six team qualifying tournament will see each team play five games in ten days, with the top two countries at the end of the matches booking their place to Rio 2018.
Westfield Matildas squad for Sydney training camp 5-7 January 2016
Mackenzie Arnold (gk)
Lisa De Vanna
Casey Dumont (gk)
Emily van Egmond
Lydia Williams (gk)