"Players proved that they deserve to be on this stage" - Says Gibraltar Women's head coach Janssen Olivero
Gibraltar women’s national squad face another double header week of football with an away friendly against Andorra on Wednesday, followed by a home game against Faroe Islands this weekend.
The Gibraltar National women’s squad has only last week announced its twenty player squad which includes Lewes FC, FA Championship player Ellie Mason who played against Watford Women this weekend before the international break.
Also youngster Molly Karp enters the squad replacing Josie Cummings.
We were able to put some questions to Head Coach Janssen Olivero just before the announcement to get his views on the preparations.
Following your success against Liechtenstein how confident are you now you will be facing Andorra and Faroe Islands?
I believe the team has learnt a great deal and taken many positives from our games against Liechtenstein. Apart from results, these players gave a good account of themselves in all four games and proved that they deserve to be on this stage. In order to continue to grow, we now look to test ourselves against stiffer opposition and Andorra and the Faroe Islands will do that respectively.
We are in our infancy when it comes to international football and confidence is not a luxury i can afford. I believe in these players and can guarantee, win, lose or draw, these players will give their all when representing our nation.
Many lessons were learnt from the matches against Liechtenstein, especially in the second where they upped their momentum and aggression on the field. What do you think are the main lessons you have needed to work on and how are players responding?
No matter how many times we hear it or how many times you might tell your players, football is a game, won or lost on the field of play. We came off the back of a historic result and complacency and overconfidence were evident in our second game. It took us to have to go down in the first half of our second home game against Liechtenstein to come back out in the second half with the correct mindset and focus and give Liechtenstein a run for their money. However, football is a game of two halves and at this level we have to come into the game with the correct mindset and focus from the first to the final whistle. Positives......is we were able to show grit and determination to react to the result and a harsh but important lesson for our players.
However, we must be able to apply what we learn in these games. The tougher the opposition the harsher you are punished for lapses or mistakes. We must ensure to play to our strengths, ensure we keep possession of the ball and wait for the right opportunities to come not force play and give the ball away. We need to take our chances, which at this level can be few and far between.
The Faroe Islands in particular will be a new type of scenario with your opponents literally preparing to play qualifiers. Do you think this will be an opportunity to show that you can be at that same level?
The Faroe Islands are currently involved in World Cup qualifiers and are competing against top European nations. This will be a massive step up for us and a great opportunity for our young developing squad of players to pitch themselves at this level. It will also give us an opportunity to show a different facet to our game, the way we form up, plan and manage a game and not just play one style of football and/or formation, but still with the aim of expressing ourselves and our strengths and giving the opposition something to think about.
With things like Covid-19 high on the agenda how have preparations been?
No different if I'm honest. We are obviously aware that a positive case within the squad can put plans in serious jeopardy but players and staff alike a very aware of this fact and we all take steps to limit the risk of contracting the virus. Unfortunately these are the times we currently live in. All we can do as a squad is be sensible and avoid situations which could put players and staff at risk, following Public Health advice. The GFA regularly test us prior to games to ensure we act quickly in the unfortunate event that a player or member of staff do contract the virus.
Will we be seeing new faces within the squads?
I am always looking to strengthen and add depth to the squad. That can be in the form of experienced players to young upcoming players. As for new faces in the squad, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few more days until I release my twenty player squad for these internationals.
What are your realistic expectations for these two matches and what will constitute a successful campaign for you?
We currently have a clear vision and aim, which is to prepare ourselves for the next qualifiers in 2025. That means coming up against a varying array of competition. It also means bringing in players and giving players the opportunity to test themselves at this level. Results are always important but it's imperative these games are used to form a strong squad of players, ready to take on the expectancies of competitive international football in three years’ time. The aim is to have a strong squad of experienced players, any of which can step up and perform at the level required and that only comes with giving players opportunities to prove themselves. These friendly games are our preparation for future official international competitions and although we will go out to win, always, I'm more concerned about the teams and individual player performances, giving players opportunities on the pitch and building a strong squad of players for 2025, when then, results will matter.
Have you seen any changes in the players since their last internationals?
The entire set up surrounding the squad has developed and will continue to develop. Its not just the players but the entire squad, players and Technical Staff alike, who are learning and advancing, putting practices, routines and plans in place to ensure we strive to meet our objectives and are as best prepared as we can be for the challenges that lie ahead. Everything from the way we analyse games, to players, to opponents, not just as a team but as individual players and any specific roles and responsibilities one might have on the pitch, to the constant monitoring and growth of our players physical attributes and how best to maximise and maintain high levels of fitness all year round.
The work my technical team is doing behind the scenes, all year round to ensure we have a modern day professional set up is amazing and the support received from the association has been second to none. The transition being made for womens football on the rock has definitely taken a massive step forward, this is exciting times and I'm just honoured to form part of it.