Jeddah — Intensive training sessions are underway for Saudi Arabia’s first-ever women’s national football team at the end of screening and performance tests.
A highly professional and well-qualified technical staff made several shuttle tours to major cities of the Kingdom in their bid to evaluate the performance of a total of 700 players competing for a place in the national team.
The technical staff, and head coach Monika Staab, a leading German footballer; is charged to form a strong team capable of representing the Kingdom in regional and international matches.
Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City (Al-Jawhara Stadium) hosted the first phase of the training camp; which concluded on Friday, while the second phase of the camp will be in Riyadh from Jan. 27 to Feb. 16.
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When the camp ends, the first-ever national women’s team will be fully prepared to represent the Kingdom in the first two international matches; scheduled to be held in the Maldives — first against Seychelles on Feb. 20, the second against the Maldives on Feb. 24.
The team’s practices are being held daily in morning and evening sessions. These include physical and tactical drills and some theoretical and analytical lectures to acquire the best level of readiness before heading to the Maldives.
It is noteworthy that the national team’s technical staff had conducted performance tests; to pick the most talented team members from different regions of the Kingdom since last October. In addition, Staab, the head coach, and her technical staff evaluated the players in the league rounds; held in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam last November and December.
A total of 16 teams comprising a total of 433 players competed in 72 matches; in addition to the first-ever Saudi Women’s National Football Championship, held in early January, among eight teams.
The technical staff, headed by Monica Staab, include assistant coaches Dana Rajab, Sandra Kalin (Switzerland); Martin Pachulik (Slovakia), goalkeeper coach Catherine Lingert (Germany), and video analyst Dana Newbery (Australia). The administrative body of the women’s team includes team supervisor Alia Al-Rasheed, team manager Beren Sadaqa, and team administrators Dalia Al-Obeikan and Intisar Al-Qahtani. Suleiman Sharahili and Fahd Al-Turki are team coordinators.
The technical staff has conducted several qualifying tests and experiments in several cities since October 2021, evaluating the performance of over 700 players.
“Next month, the newly formed national team will play the first two international matches; in preparation for our entry into the monthly FIFA rankings; as we aspire to officially enter the international classification during the year as well as in the AFC and International competitions shortly.”
On her part, the head coach Staab said that the selection process was per complete diligence. “Since last September, we have started searching for the best players who could find a place in the journey of the national team to compete in its first international matches in the Maldives in February.”
She said that holding the first official Saudi league matches and the national championship played a significant role in selection. “This helped us a lot as the technical staff picked the best players for the team.