Paradise Awaits – Elena Sadiku on Celtic FC Women’s Title Charge

Ahead of Celtic FC Women’s return to Paradise this afternoon, Elena Sadiku spoke to the media, including The Celtic Star.

From an update on Amy Gallacher’s injury on Wednesday injury to her message to Celtic fans ahead of today’s return to Paradise for the Ghirls, this is what our Swedish coach had to say…

Q: How different is it to lead the pack rather than having to try and close the gap?

Elena Sadiku: “To be honest, there’s no difference. I’ve said it since we came into the split that the only focus, we have is on our performance, on our games, and like we said, we have this ambition and goal to win the rest of our games and that hasn’t changed. So, no matter if we’re top of the league or not, that’s going to be our aim no matter what. So, there’s no difference at all.”

Q: Your ambitions haven’t changed but do you think there’s a different pressure when you’re at the front?

Elena Sadiku: “Not really. Even if you think there’s a pressure, nothing’s going to change. Our aim and the goal is still the same. It’s about focusing on our performance and doing the best we can for every game and that hasn’t changed. If you, as a team, like to chase then that’s their choice but for us it’s about focusing on our performance and what we can do. I feel no extra pressure.”

Q: Hearts had beaten (the)Rangers on Wednesday night. Could they be formidable opponents on Sunday?

Elena Sadiku: “Yeah, I feel like all the games in the split are very hard. If you look back at our game against Hibs, they did an amazing job to try and hurt us. We created some chances that we should’ve scored but it could’ve been a different result as well. We’re not going to take any game easy, and Hearts did an amazing job to get three points against Rangers but that doesn’t change the focus. Again, it’ll be about us and our performance and whatever happens is what we can control, we can’t control anything else.”

Q: You could make history by being the first manager to deliver a title to the women’s team but also, no team in the country has had a male title-winning team as well as a female title-winning team at the same time.

Elena Sadiku: “It would be an amazing story if that would be possible but for me, it also comes to the fact that we can be the squad, the team that did it. I think that’s the most important thing. That the girls can feel like they can write history. It’s about us, in general, as a team but also as a club. Since I’ve been here, I said that I understand what Celtic is about and that’s the challenge that I want to be a part of. Like I said, nothing has changed really, and I hope that the girls feel the same in that we just focus on ourselves, what we can do and hopefully it’ll be a good ending.”

Q: You weren’t here last season but the experience of taking it to the final seconds of the campaign, did that help the girls going into this season and going into another tight title race?

Elena Sadiku: “That’s a hard question and really, I have no idea. The only thing I know is what I brought into the team and that’s the only thing that I’ve been focusing on. Whether that has something to do with last season or not, I can’t answer that, but I think that there has been a change since I came here. I don’t know if that has anything to do with what has happened in the past.”

The Celtic Star: What’s the mood been in the dressing room after Wednesday night knowing that you’ll be playing in Paradise?

Elena Sadiku: “The training today was really fun. The girls were happy, it was some competition in the training, and I think you just got to enjoy the moment of playing at Paradise. For all the players, it’s going to be a special feeling. Obviously, we’re Celtic and we’re going to enjoy the moment, but I think everybody wants to play here, our opponents as well. So, it’s going to be a really big, special moment but I think it all comes down to making sure we have a special moment together of performing well and having a great performance in front of our fans.”

The Celtic Star: There was an injury to Amy Gallacher the other night. How is she doing?

Elena Sadiku: “Amy is, I think, pretty well. She’s had like a, I don’t know how to say this, but it’s like a dead leg but on her gluteus maximus. So, it’s going to take some time for her to get back into where she is but it’s not a big injury, just something we have to wait out.”

Lucy Ashworth-Clifford

The Celtic Star: Lucy [Ashworth-Clifford] coming back has given the squad something else. Is there news on Hana Kerner?

Hana Kerner

Elena Sadiku: “Lucy has been doing great and Hana Kerner is back in the city. She has some things that she needs to do first before coming back to play in the team, but she looks good. Luana is also getting back into shape and more with the ball so that’s a good sign for us. It feels like we’re getting new signings in just because I haven’t seen them play as well so it’s a good thing to have as a coach.”

The Celtic Star: Brendan was talking last week about momentum and how Celtic come alive at this time of the season. Do you feel that too?

Elena Sadiku: “Obviously, my first two games weren’t the best, but I think after that, I think we’ve been alive all the time. Everybody has been saying that we have the momentum going on, but I think it comes from us just focusing on ourselves, our performance and how we train. And that’s the performance we’ve been showing in games as well. But I agree with Brendan. Hopefully, we’ll still keep alive and keep up what we’ve been working on.”

The Celtic Star: What’s your message to the fans?

Elena Sadiku: “I’ve been giving many messages in the media now but all I can say is do it for the girls. Do it for the players. Show them the support by coming. It will be amazing to write history as a club, to be the first team that wins the league with both the men’s and the women’s. If that’s not motivating enough, then I don’t know what is.”

Q: The schedules really busy now. How are you managing that and adapting training?

Elena Sadiku:  “The only thing that I do is adapting the training for what we have in front of us so that’s an easy answer. Adapting the load of the players and everything. I’m just adapting and being flexible.”

Q: Do you have an idea already of who will be starting on Sunday?

Elena Sadiku: “I think I have a clear idea of who we’re going to start and how we’re going to play. Also, the rotation is not only because of rotation but because I believe that they can do well. I’ve said it 100 times before, we have a great squad and that’s something that’s very nice to see. You’ve seen that we’ve made a lot of changes during the game as well so that’s something that we need to keep building on.”

Q: The front three are starting to click together no matter who’s playing, and Murphy Agnew is becoming more important. Is that something you’ve seen and been working on?

Elena Sadiku: “I don’t know if I’ve been doing anything special about that. Murphy has been doing really good and her confidence is really high. That’s something that she’s been doing by herself. The players you see on the pitch is pretty much who they are, so I don’t think it has a lot to do with my decisions or what I do in training, but I hope that the players feel that if you perform well in training and you look confident that you’ll get the chance. I think it’s more about Murphy doing a great job.”

Q: It’s exciting to play at Celtic Park but obviously it’s a bigger pitch. Do you think tactically and strategically that will affect the way you set up and do you think it plays into our hands as an advantage?

Elena Sadiku: “I think no matter what we’ve been doing lately, like for example, when we played at Petershill Park against Partick, we did pretty good on a narrow pitch. Then when we play on bigger pitches, it also suits us because it gives us more space and time. Hearts are a good football team, they can play football, we know that. I think it’ll be a good advantage for both of the teams. Hopefully, we can have the biggest group of supporters that’s going to be the biggest advantage for us.”

Q: You talked about adapting things in training depending on who you’re playing. Do you adapt it depending on the surface you’re playing on?

Elena Sadiku: “I’d say that I’d adapt the load on the player. Today, we trained on grass so maybe players that didn’t play full minutes, they don’t do full training because of the change of the surface. I’m just very adaptable and flexible, I would say. So, I have a lot of different scenarios that I need to adapt to.”

Q: You had a tough start when you came to Celtic. Did you think back then that you’d get into this position of being top of the table?

Elena Sadiku: “I don’t know how to answer that question. I think coming in, having those two games and not executing them well, like I said, after those games, what I did was saw it as a challenge and something we can learn from. That’s something that I really did was learn from the experiences and doing something good with them. If I was thinking about sitting in this position, I don’t know. The only thing I was thinking was trying to make the best of the situation and to keep going because I believe in myself, and I believe in the team and that’s something that’s been showing since then.”

Q: For fans who’ve maybe not watched the women’s team since you’ve come in, what can they expect to see from your team on Sunday?

Elena Sadiku: “I would say that we play pretty attractive football. We play a style of play that makes us look really good. I think it’s very entertaining, especially if you look at Hibs. Not only because we created chances but because we were trying to force goals and then we got some transitions. We defended and played better in the second half but overall, just come and enjoy.

“The girls are doing really well at playing this style of play but also, the most important thing for me is to give the girls the support they deserve because they’ve been doing so well. That’s the main message. And like I said, we have something really nice to look forward to and as much as the men’s have the support, if the club can write history together, that’s something we should be proud of and make sure that the girls also feel that support.”

Support the Ghirls this afternoon when they return to Paradise. Tickets are still available to purchase for the 16:10 kick-off at Celtic Park. COYGIG!

Jessica Elliott

READ THIS…Celtic On This Day – 21st April – David Potter’s Celtic Diary

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.

Comments are closed.