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Hayes targets further new signings as Chelsea Ladies miss out on IWCC crown
Hayes’ charges are preparing to depart Tokyo having reached the final of the International Women’s Club Championship before losing 4-2 to Japanese league and cup champions INAC Kobe Leonessa on Sunday.
Recent recruit Rachel Williams was the Blues’ star player in Japan, scoring one and making one in the final as Chelsea almost pulled off a remarkable comeback having trailed 3-0 to their impressive hosts after 80 minutes.
Williams has been joined in West London by her fellow England international Laura Bassett, with both opting not to sign new deals at Birmingham City Ladies in favour of the move south.
And despite the tournament in Japan only just ending Hayes revealed she has no plans to take a break, instead putting her time and energy in to building a side capable of topping the WSL pile next year.
‘We have big expectations for next season at Chelsea and I think once everyone sees the signings we bring in you will see that we have very serious intentions to compete and win our league next season,’ said Hayes, who oversaw a 3-2 win over Sydney FC in the semi-final in Japan.
‘I think once we complete the signings of a few more players we will add good quality to the team. But we also have some good youngsters coming through and I think you will see a much more competitive Chelsea next season.
‘Being here has allowed us to build a spirit, which is the most important thing. We will have more time to train when we are back in England and we will use this trip as a motivation for the players as it has been a massive success on and off the pitch as we have had time to spend in the community in Tokyo and Okayama.’
INAC Kobe were the big favourites for the game and opened up a 3-0 goal lead before Williams and Hannah Blundell pegged them back, only for the hosts to catch Chelsea on the break in injury time.
And Hayes believes running a side packed full of internationals so close during what is effectively pre-season for Chelsea will stand her players in good stead for next year.
‘We knew it would be a difficult game against a top team and due to the time of the year we didn’t have the fitness levels to play a high-pressing game,’ she added.
‘In general I think we had good opportunities, we hit the bar and had a one on one but we missed those chances at crucial times and as we didn’t convert 3-0 was too difficult a score to come back from.
‘But the team showed great character second half and I think if we played them again during our season we would give them an even better game.
‘INAC are a team that have played together for a long time and that is the difference. We have similar philosophies and they have top players but the time together was the main difference.’
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS