Impetus’ Johnathan Stack was in today’s media conference with goalkeeper Teagan Micah, who reflects on the battle for the number one jersey. Ben Gilby heard from the Matildas’ assistant coach Mel Andreatta as she highlights the threat posed by South Africa, and the importance of the squad’s depth-building project (6/10/22).
Above: Teagan Micah speaking to the media today from Australia’s South-West London training base. Image: Football Australia.
Teagan Micah says she is ready to go toe to toe with Lydia Williams and Mackenzie Arnold for the Matildas’ number-one goalkeeping spot and take her chance when called upon.
The 24-year-old shot-stopper is waiting for that opportunity to call the number one jersey her own but has stiff competition in the form of Paris St. Germain’s Williams and West Ham United keeper Arnold.
Micah starred during Australia’s run to fourth place at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, producing a penalty save in a standout performance against Team GB, but has only added two caps to her name this year with Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson giving opportunities to all of his three options between the sticks this year.
The goalkeper told reporters on Thursday morning: “It’s just like a patience game with goalkeeping. Anything can happen at any time, so I just have to be ready. I’m just trying to focus on that development, and I feel like I am developing at my club and then hopefully get the chance, here again, then I can hopefully take it.
“It’s hard – at the end of the day I’m versing someone who has nearly over 100 caps more than me, so she does have that experience and all credit to Lydia, when she has come in, she’s played well. So, from what I understand, it’s not necessarily something that I’ve done, it’s at that point where she’s playing well, so I don’t think it’s going to change much, we’ll see.”
Micah has featured regularly for the Swedish side Rosengård and put in some good performances this season as the defending Damallsvenskan champions sit top of the table once more.
The Gippsland native feels that the move to the Malmö-based Swedish club has been hugely beneficial to her game. “I think just playing with such high calibre players, it has helped my leadership and development so much. I love that we play such good football, and we are a winning club it’s a really good mentality.”
As the Matildas get ready to face South Africa in London on Saturday and Denmark in Viborg next Wednesday, Micah is clear about the benefits the squad have in this international window in terms of greatly reduced travelling times for their majority European-based squad.
“It’s massive for us, I think it’s clear when you are flying for 22 hours with the layovers. You come off the back of a game and then you have to fly there, we are only doing a recovery session on Wednesday so that is not even a full session with each other so that makes a massive difference.
“Last camp I think I returned Thursday afternoon, trained Friday, and flew again Friday then played Saturday. I was just shattered and being a goalkeeper is a mental game and when I am yawning at half-time it’s not good, but there’s a massive difference, it’s amazing to go Down Under and play but the reality is we all play over here now. There are benefits to going home but there are also benefits to staying here.”
Australia assistant coach Mel Andreatta highlighted the benefits of being able to having the vast majority of the Matildas squad being able to train from the get-go rather than requiring recovery time following long flights from Europe to Australia.
“The first three days here in camp have been excellent. We’ve really enjoyed the training venue and getting together. I think we’ve really noticed the difference in arriving into camp a bit fresher and ready to go. We’ve already had three really quality sessions to kick off camp.
“It’s been really positive and really focused, I would say. I think the playing group is eager to get on the pitch on Saturday and put the work into practice in a good performance.
On the importance of the fixture, Andreatta discussed the significance of taking on the Women’s African Cup of Nations champions in this window.
“It’s an exciting opportunity. Now, after 12 months, we’ve been able to tick the box of playing a country from every FIFA confederation.”
“The key focus is that we want to play well. We want to play well for 90 minutes and put everything that we do in the training park into the game under pressure against different opponents on match day.
“South Africa have proven to be a top African nation, and they’re unique in their playing style. They are very technical, very athletic, and intense in the way that they play. Defensively they’ll come out and win their one v one duels, intercept, transition, and look to get in behind.
“We need these different opponents to play against so that when we come into a World Cup where we could, in our draw, play any one of these nations it’s important that we have the experience of playing them.
“It gives you that confidence and that familiarity that you can go into a pressure environment with thousands in the stands and know that you’ve faced this before and can go and get the job done.”
Late injuries have hit the Matildas in the last two windows with the absences of Alanna Kennedy (shoulder), Kyah Simon (knee), Tameka Yallop (ankle), Emily van Egmond (quad) and Clare Wheeler (knee) prior to the commencement of October’s camp.
For Andreatta, it underscores the vital depth-building project that has been undertaken in the past 12–18 months.
“We’ve been able to do that [build depth] with the number of debutantes over the last 18 months, so I think it’s been effective in that way.”
“We’ve unfortunately experienced some injuries that we found through our screening processes before camp. Because of that depth building, and players that have been through Talent ID camps, our A-League Women’s competition, NPL competitions through to AFF, we’ve been able to draw on a wider pool of players to build our squad and have a competitive team for this window.”