Intensive training sessions are under way for Saudi Arabia’s first-ever women’s national football team at the end of a long process of screening and performance tests.

A highly professional and well-qualified technical staff made a number of shuttle tours to major cities of the Kingdom in their bid to evaluate the performance of a total of 700 players who vied to find a place in the national team.

The technical staff, headed by the national team’s head coach Monika Staab, a leading German footballer, is tasked 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 held in Riyadh from Jan. 27 to Feb. 16.

By the time 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 the Seychelles on Feb. 20 and the second against the Maldives on Feb. 24.

Several training sessions focusing on fitness and muscular exercises were held for the selected national team members with the aim of raising their fitness level. The tactical exercises were intensified before the players were divided into two groups.

The goalkeepers underwent special exercises under the supervision of goalkeeper coach Catherine Lingert. The team’s exercises are being held daily in morning and evening shifts and these included physical and tactical exercises, as well as some theoretical and analytical lessons so that the team members attain the best level of readiness before heading to the Maldives.

It is noteworthy that the technical staff of the national team had conducted performance tests to pick the most qualified team members from various regions of the Kingdom since last October. Staab, the head coach, and her technical staff evaluated the performance of the players in the league rounds held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam during last November and December.

A total of 16 teams comprising a total of 433 players competed in a total of 72 matches, in addition to the first ever Saudi Women’s National Football Championship, which was held in early January, with the participation of eight qualified teams.

The technical staff, headed by Monica Staab, include assistant coaches Dana Rajab, Sandra Kalin (Switzerland) and 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.

Referring to holding training camps, Lamia Bahaian, member of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and director of the Women’s Football Department, said that the first phase of the training camp was held in Jeddah after formation of the team through a long process covering several phases.

The technical staff conducted several qualifying tests and experiments in several cities since October 2021, during which the performance level of more than 700 players was evaluated.

“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 in the near future.”

On her part, the head coach Staab said that the selection process was carried out in accordance with 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 major role in the selection process. “This helped us a lot as technical staff in picking the best players for the team. We hope that the national team will be fully prepared by the time of participating in the first official tournament abroad,” Staab added.

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