It has been a difficult start to the season for Lazio Women, who have yet to register a point. They are currently last in the Serie A Femminile table with sevens losses; despite the appointment of Massimilano Catini following the dismissal of Carolina Morace, their struggles have continued.
This weekend, the Roman side will be welcoming Napoli Calcio Femminile to the Campo Mirko Fersini at the Formello Sports Centre, who currently sit in 10th place (the final relegation spot) with four points. This will be a pivotal match as both sides are battling to secure salvation and remain in the top flight next year.
Ahead of the fixture, The Laziali’s Jerry Mancini interviewed Napoli goalkeeper Kelly Chiavaro. She provided some background on the club and how they have been performing this season, some insight on her first professional start in Serie A Femminile, her relationship with teammate Yolanda Aguirre Gutierrez, which of her teammates to look out for, and her thoughts on Lazio and why they’ve been struggling.
How would you assess Napoli’s season to date?
Our season thus far has been a roller coaster of emotions. We started the season playing against most of the top teams of the league and managed to come out with 4 points. We have a very talented team but besides four players, we are all new which is always challenging especially in a league like Serie A.
The second part of the first half of the season is very crucial for us because ultimately every game is a must-win to ensure that we get out of the relegation zone and start passing teams points-wise. I think our recent match against Sampdoria, where we got three red cards and lost in the 98th minute, accurately portrays the start of our season. However, I have full confidence in the team and I know we have the strength and the talent to turn our season around.
Now is the time more than ever to stick together and find a way to start winning and show everyone what we have.
Congratulations on your first start for Napoli Femminile. What was the experience like and what did you take from this game that can help you moving forward?
Thank you. Stepping on the field for the first time, wearing a Napoli shirt was a beautiful experience. I worked really hard for this moment and to have my hard work pay off and get some playing time was awesome.
Not being a starter can be very hard mentally but getting some playing time and doing well throughout the match helped me gain that extra inch of confidence to push even harder during training and work towards getting the starting position.
Ultimately, playing this game helped me refocus my energy on the controllables. I can only control certain things and I just need to be ready to take my opportunity when the time comes.
How is your relationship with Yolanda Aguirre Gutierrez? Has she helped to improve your game?
I have a great relationship with Yoli (Yolanda). We are very close friends and we were fortunate enough to build a strong friendship outside of the field.
Having a good relationship with the other goalkeeper(s) is necessary to our growth as players because having a healthy competition allows us to always show up and give our best.
It’s easy to become complacent and for the work ethic to drop when you don’t have competition and so I believe that us being close and supporting one another and being there for one another on and off the field also helps us compete on the field and continue to improve day in and day out.
Which Napoli players should Lazio keep an eye out for in the upcoming match?
Our team has a lot of very talented players. Some of our key players such as Evdokiya Popadinova and Despoina Chatznikolaou have been battling small injuries but should be back really soon.
Soledad “Sole” Jaimes, who recently came from Argentina, has been a key player to our team and has really helped us with her experience and her offensive abilities.
That being said, I think that defensively our team is very solid. We have a lot of depth to our defense which gives us the opportunity to play different formations and move players around depending on the game and the opponent.
Have you been able to follow other teams in the league this season? If so, are there any Lazio players that concern you or have impressed you this season?
I try to follow as many of the teams as I can. I think it’s important to be familiar with my opponents and their playing styles.
Some of the players we definitely need to look out for are Adriana Martin Santamaria and Signe Holt Andersen as they can both be very dangerous offensively.
The relegation battle at the current moment is very intense. Amongst those teams is 12th place Lazio who you play in your upcoming fixture. How do you see Napoli approaching this match?
The match against Lazio is crucial for us. We absolutely need the three points as it would mean that they would stay below us and would help us move ahead in the standings.
As mentioned previously all the games in this second part of the first half of the season are must wins because we can’t afford to lose more points and we need to start getting away from the relegation zone.
My hope is that this game can help us get our season going.
Lazio have clearly struggled this season. They were promoted to the top flight but have not been able to find form this camapign. What are your thoughts about them and why do you think they’re struggling this season?
I think it is always hard to come from Serie B and be successful right away. It takes time to adjust to the new league but I have found that teams who can survive the relegation and stay for a second year in Serie A typically do better because it allows them to recruit and make adjustments.
It is still very early in the season and a lot of things can happen. There is still time for improvement and for the season to turn around.