Youngsters get a gig in Matildas squad
FOOTBALL: Youth is all the rage in the latest Matildas squad, with 15-year-old Jacynta Galabadaarachchi headlining the list of inclusions for this week's training camp.
Coach Alen Stajcic has named a list of 25 players for the three-day training camp in Canberra, with Melbourne City youngster Galabadaarachchi among three uncapped players included.
Canberra United midfielder Grace Maher and fellow 17-year-old, Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, have also been included in the squad.
Stajcic said the youth of the squad was about focusing on the next "cycle" of tournaments, which include the Algarve Cup, 2018 Asian Cup, 2019 Women's World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games.
"We are now heading into a new four year cycle," Stajcic said in a statement.
"The last cycle ended after the Rio Olympics so this is the beginning of a new cycle up until after the Tokyo Games, so we're looking at what kind of team we can take to qualify for the major tournaments, starting with the Asian Cup next year," said Stajcic.
"It's about having a squad that can peak in these tournaments."
Galabadaarachchi played just five games for Melbourne City but impressed with her evasiveness, while Maher and Mathyssen-Whyman were key players for Canberra and the Wanderers this year.
Stajcic said the squad was based off a combination of W-League form and performances for the Young and Junior Matildas
"For the majority it is about what they showed in the W-League but others have done well at Young Matildas camps and in the Under 17 national team, so it could have been on any major arena that we watched them play on," Stajcic said.
"They're players we think have the potential to be really good international footballers.
"The biggest objective of this camp and one of the major factors in the squad we've selected is building the depth of the team and increasing the competition within the team and giving more players the experience of being in a Matildas camp and playing senior international football."
There has also been a shake-up in Australia's coaching staff, with former Matilda Heather Garriock to join Gary van Egmond as an assistant.
Garriock, Brisbane Roar coach Mel Andreatta and Leah Blayney will rotate through the role as part of a focus on engaging aspiring female coaches.
"Heather is one of the coaches but we'll also have Mel Andreatta and Leah Blayney to start off the process of engaging more females in our national team environment," Stajcic said.
"It's a process of upskilling these high quality people with more experience at the highest level working with the top players in the country."
"Heather is an energetic and enthusiastic person who has over 100 caps for her country and brings with her a wealth of experience.
"She was a really dynamic, aggressive, never-say-die type of personality on the field, so she brings in a lot of personal characteristics but she's also been coaching for a number of years so I'm sure she'll add value to our setup and hopefully it will help further develop her as a coach as well."
The camp at the AIS, taking place between Wednesday and Friday, will be followed by a second training camp in Sydney's West from February 20-22.
That squad will then be trimmed to 18-20 players, with German-based stars Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond to join those players in Portugal for the Algarve Cup.