Alen Stajcic happy with growth at home and improving team

Alen Stajcic happy with growth at home and improving team

Chances not taken but plenty of good news for the Matildas in the Algarve.

Sophie Lawson

After their penalty shoot-out loss to Denmark we spoke to Australia coach, Alen Stajcic about his team and their performances at the Algarve Cup.

Despite having lost out of third place in the cruellest way in football – a penalty shoot-out – there was plenty to gleaned from Australia’s trip to Portugal with more quality players coming through, “We came here with the objective of uncovering some new players who can add to our squad depth, we left three or four players at home and we had two or three injuries so that gave an opportunity to five or six players to come in and they did well so we’re really pleased now we have a bigger pool to choose from and we know the players who’ve come in can do a good job for us.

With the W-League on the rise, there’s plenty of talent coming through back home though given where Australia is in relation to the other top leagues in the world Stajcic is aware that the federation has a duty to the players, “We’ve got some good talent, some more good 14, 15, 16 year-old kids coming through, so we just need to keep working at it and to do everything right. In Australia we’re a long, long way from the rest of the world and it’s hard for us to get international competition and hard for us to have players who can play abroad very easily, they’ve got to sacrifice a lot to play that far from home. So we’ve got to make sure we do everything right at home to keep that player pool going.”

A pleasure to watch, the Matildas Achilles heel was their inability to take their chances though creation was far from a problem, “We just need to keep evolving our game, we displayed a good type of football, I think we were the best team in our group in terms of playing style and we created the most chances in every game we played.

"We dominated every game if we can improve our execution I think we’ll be very hard to beat and today’s game could have easily gone our way by some margin if we’d just put away half our chances. That’s where we have to improve but certainly, if we can improve that facet of our game then we’re going to be a real contender.”

Drawn in the same group with a familiar China team, Stajcic was in the same boat as Bruno Bini who had joked about being in the same group with such well-known opposition, “I prefer playing different opposition, we’ve played China four times in the last two years so playing someone like Denmark is really refreshing, it’s good to play against a different style of opponent and that’s what we’re going to come up against in World Cups and Olympics.

"That’s where we are right now, we’re preparing for France 2019, obviously we’ve got the Asian Cup next year which is our qualifier so it’s very important we prepare well for that but we’re looking at the big picture and trying to set our stall for having a good team in two years’ time.