Celtic FC Women at Ibrox: “The pressure is more on Rangers,” Elena Sadiku

Celtic FC Women can close the gap at the top of the SWPL1 to just one point this Sunday, 18 February,  with a victory over the current leaders theRangers at Ibrox.

It would be a first Glasgow Derby win of the season for the Ghirls and also the first for new manager Elena Sadiku who, after Chloe Craig had her say, spoke to the media which consisted of STV, Jessica from The Celtic Star and Claire from Cynic Women. Here’s every that was said at the Celtic FC Women manager’s media conference ahead of the massive match at Ibrox…

STV: How would you assess the challenge that awaits this weekend?

Elena Sadiku: “Every game is a challenge itself but obviously we are playing against the team that is number one who hasn’t lost yet so it’s a big challenge when it comes to that part of the game.”

STV: How much significance do you place on this game in terms of the overall season?

Elena Sadiku: “I think it comes mostly about us being in our bubble. Just thinking about next training, next game, and I think that’s something that we’ve been doing really well, especially coming from the week that we’ve come from. I think in that aspect it’s just a game that we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

STV: It was a close game when you last played (the)Rangers. What do you think needs to change or be better this weekend?

Elena Sadiku: “I don’t think that our performance was the best against (the)Rangers. Last time we played them, I think we’ve been building on things that we’re progressing and getting better at so hopefully we can do better on Sunday with the things that we’ve been working on.”

STV: How do you feel the players are taking on your methods?

Elena Sadiku: “Better and better. I think if you’ve seen the games we’ve been playing, we just progress and we’re just getting better and better as a team. So, I think it will take some time but from the time where I’ve started, it’s only been one month, it just looks better and better. I’m very pleased how the team, how the players and the staff, have been welcoming with open arms and buying my ideas for what I have for the team.”

The Celtic Star: Very important game on Sunday and the three points could be a title decider come the end of the season. Does that put pressure on you? And just how much pressure does that put on the team?

Elena Sadiku: “I think the pressure is not on us, really. I think that if you can look at it in another way, we come from a week where we’ve been performing well and getting three points from our victories in each game. I think that the pressure is more on (the)Rangers, being number one and not having lost yet. We’re just going to do our very best to keep building on what we’re building on. So that’s what I look forward to on Sunday.”

The Celtic Star: Does it give you confidence to know that theRangers drew at the weekend and Celtic won?

Elena Sadiku: “Not really. I don’t look too much about what other teams are doing. I focus the most on how we perform and how we are developing as a team.”

The Celtic Star: You mentioned the players buying into your ideas and you’ve experimented with a back four and a back three going forward. What are we more likely to see at the back going forward?

Elena Sadiku: “That’s a secret! I can’t tell.”

The Celtic Star: Any injuries affecting the squad or anyone who won’t be available for other reasons?

Elena Sadiku: “Right now, it looks like players are coming back. The only missing right now is Hana [Kerner] and Luana [Muñoz] that are coming back soon from the US and Argentina. So no, we have a full squad. Just the two players that aren’t in right now.”

Cynic Women: You mentioned in interviews that having the two tough games at the start [of your Celtic managerial career]meant you’ve been able to learn quite a lot quite quickly. What would you say are the biggest lessons that you’ve taken away from the games that you’ve had so far?

Elena Sadiku: “Most of all, I think I’ve learned that I work with amazing people, amazing players, and I’m really excited to keep working with them for the next coming days and how much time I’m going to be here. I think the best part of getting to know the players is how good football players they are as well. I think their full potentials – we haven’t got there, and we have so much more to build to get out the full potential in every player. So that’s what I’m looking forward to a lot.”

Cynic Women: It must be difficult coming in and straight away, having to pick a starting eleven when you’re still learning the attributes of your squad. How might that impact selection on Sunday?

Elena Sadiku: “When it comes from the week, we’ve just come from with three games in seven days, I think the strength that we have is we came from three victories because we made the changes. We had fresh players playing and I want to make sure that the players know that I trust them. I want to give them the chance and that’s just going to get bigger and bigger. I’ve only been here for one month so I’m still trying to learn and trying to see the potential and what positions they can play to reach their potentials. If we can manage that with the team, I think we’re going to get a strong team that can compete in the league.”

Cynic Women: Looking beyond Sunday, how valuable will it be to have the break in fixtures with the international break?

Elena Sadiku: “It comes at a good time because it’s been very intense. It’s not only about football, I’ve met many people and there’s been a lot of other things to work on. The most fun part of being a coach is making sure that the team is ready for the game. It’s going to be a different pressure in the trainings so its going to be enjoyable in another way as I can sit more and talk to the players, get to know them more because now it’s just been about training, about games, but I really want to get to know them as people as well. The focus right now is only (the)Rangers on Sunday, and whatever happens then, we’ll take after the game.”

Cynic Women: There were a few surprised faces in the crowd when Kelly Clark stepped up to take a corner last Sunday. Was that something she came to you with, or did you approach her about taking set pieces? Will we see that again?

Elena Sadiku: “For me, I’m a coach that listens to their players and she asked me if she could take a corner in training, just to see, and I said, ‘if you can take it, you can take it, but you need to make sure you’re good’, and she was. So, she got the opportunity, and she did really well on the corner so I’m not going to say no.”

Celtic FC Women are at Ibrox this Sunday, 18 February to take on theRangers in the SWPL1, with the kick-off at 3.10pm. Tickets for the Celtic end are available HERE. Watch Elena Sadiku’s Media Conference below…

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About Author

I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.

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