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ACL: Wanderers stagnant in Seoul

After a tedious 90 minutes of football, the AFC Champions League semi-final between the Western Sydney Wanderers and FC Seoul concluded with a 0-0 draw, placing an immense amount of pressure on the Wanderers to deliver the goods in the second leg.

Defensively the Wanderers were pressing up a lot more than usual consequently enabling the squad to dominate possession a lot earlier in the game in comparison to FC Seoul, who had a sleepy start.


Despite this, FC Seoul were able to consistently weave their way through the stereotypical rock-solid Wanderers defence, which left Wanderers Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Brendan Hamill and Goal-Keeper Ante Covic to continuously prevent the squad from conceding a goal.

The first half saw a variety of cheap turnovers due to minor defensive mistakes by the Western Sydney team that enabled FC Seoul to head into enemy territory through Sergio Escuerdo leading quick counter attacks that left the opposition chasing after their feet.

The most explicit challenges on the Wanderers defence were down the right-hand side where Daniel Mullen was stationed, which led a variety of opportunities for FC Seoul to change the current outcome of the game.

Considering the enormity of the stadium, which has full capacity near the 66,000 mark, it was only filled to about 10%, with roughly 30 Western Sydney Wanderers supporters making the trip up to South Korea to support their beloved team.

The second half saw substitutions at Seoul World Cup Stadium with Park Hee Seong being replaced by Everton Santos and Lee Woonghee coming off for Kang Seung Jo for FC Seoul.

The Wanderers during the second half had vast improvements especially by Labinot Haliti whom by holding the ball up was able to slow the game down and perhaps give his squad the opportunity to think before releasing the ball too soon. This was certainly missing from the first half.

Poljak made a variety of long-range shots yet FC Seoul were fast to prevent these attempts and gain control of the ball.

Fears about injury during this intense battle between the two squads surfaced not only through the poor condition of the pitch, but also with Wanderer Iacopo La Rocca being stretchered off (later to walk casually back onto the field) and cramps which impacted both sides of the field.

Exhaustion was clearly taking its toll on the Wanderers who, due to being in their preseason, have played much less game time in comparison to the South Korean team, who domestically are on an unbeaten run of seven games as of last Saturday.

Changes were made in the final seven minutes of the game by the Western Sydney Wanderers with Kwabena Appiah being replaced by Jason Trifiro, Vitor Saba by Jaushua Sotirio and Daniel Mullen by Daniel Alessi.

There were many opportunities for the Wanderers in these final moments to secure that crucial away goal, yet none of them were able to make enough of an impact to change the final outcome of the match.

The question after this indifferent 0-0 draw is where to for the Wanderers from here? The next time these two clubs will meet is October 1st and the final score will definitely have to be different from tonight’s.

With the Wanderers executing a variety of unnecessary errors that more than likely attributed to the final result, an improvement in the lack of communication between the newly formed squad or the substitution of physically exhausted players earlier in the game, could have perhaps prevented these forced errors from occurring ultimately changing the final outcome of tonight's match.

The Western Sydney Wanderers will certainly have to do something differently in order to have success in the home leg in the semi-final of the AFC Champions League.

If there has been anything that has certainly come from this match, it is that the anticipation for FC Seoul and the Western Sydney Wanderers next meeting will be the most exciting thing on everyone’s football calendar.



Western Sydney Wanderers starting XI: Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (C), Labinot HALITI, Mateo POLJAK, Vitor SABA, Kwabena APPIAH, Brendan HAMILL, Iacopo LA ROCCA, Mark BRIDGE, Daniel MULLEN, Antony GOLEC and Ante COVIC (GK).

Substitutes: Yianni PERKATIS, Dean BOUZANIS, Jason TRIFIRO, Jaushua SOTIRIO, Alusine FOFANAH, Daniel ALESSI.


FC Seoul starting XI: Kim JIN KYU (C), Lee WONGHEE, Kim JU YOUNG, Cha DU RI, Sergio ESCUDERO, Go YOHAN, Park HEESEONG, Koh MYONGJIN, Ko KWANG MIN, Lee SANGHYEOB and Yu SANGHUN (GK).

Substitutes: Kim YONG DAE, Choi HYO JIN, EVERTON Leandro Dos Santos Pinto, MOLINA Uribe, Kang SEUNG JO, Yun JUTAE, Kim NAMCHUN.
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ACL preview: Wanderers' sole focus

The Wanderers' enchanting journey during their first attempt at the Asian Champions League can be compared to defeat of Goliath by David, with the Wanderers not only silencing some of the largest clubs in the world but also their critics.

The progression of the Wanderers to this semi-final stage in the ACL has both been a miraculous and tumultuous journey.


The club faced polar opposite experiences during the group stage, with the Wanderers partaking in the largest loss of 3-1 but also the biggest win of this stage with 5-0 against Guizhou Renhe.

Yet the club has not let this turbulent experience dampen their momentum heading into the semi-final of the Asians Champions League, with only Adelaide United being the other Australian club reaching this point of the competition in 2008.

FC Seoul, the Wanderers' latest challenge, certainly plan to be the sixth consecutive Korean team to reach the AFC Champions League Final with their last Australian involvement being the defeat of the Central Coast Mariners in the group stages.

The Western Sydney Team have a great record playing in South Korea, defeating Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 in April.

Coach Tony Popovic assures that the club will be able to “Take a positive result back to Sydney” following their game against FC Seoul this evening.

Key forwards Tomi Juric, Brendon Santalab, along with Shannon Cole, will miss the game after receiving their second yellow cards in the knockout stage in the quarter-final against Guangzhou Renhe.

It is clear that the squad will place some heavy reliance on other talented players such as Labinot Haliti to make their mark on the Wanderers' relatively short history.

“The suspensions are something we can’t control, the players that are here are well prepared and we are all looking forward to the match,” stated Popovic.

The squad defied the odds with their ability to topple down Chinese giant Guangzhou Evergrande during the quarter-final stage which was plagued with controversy.

Since the success of their quarter final campaign, the Wanderers' sole focus has been on their next challenge in the semi-final.

“There have been some big obstacles so far to get to this," Popovic acknowledges, stating that this next game will be another huge challenge for the club and they will be heading into the game with confidence.

"We came here for one reason and that is to bring home points," Wanderers defensive midfielder Mateo Poljak admits

“We are ready physically and mentally especially."

The Wanderers' preseason training camp in the United Arab Emirates has included some friendly games against local sides, attributing to the club's preparedness in order to dismantle the South Korean squad.

As debutants, the Wanderers will once again face a challenge during their Asians Champions league campaign tonight against the 2013 runners-up.

Without question, this is an immense achievement for any club within the Australian football league and community.

If the Wanderers are able to score a goal and defensively prevent any from being conceded, it is more than obvious that they are in with a chance of success in their second leg of the semi-final, which will be played at Parramatta Stadium.

This sense of optimism about the fact that the Wanderers could perhaps progress to the final of the Asian Champions League, despite their youthful age as a club, is something that all supporters of Australian football should get behind and support.

Live Twitter coverage of the ACL semi-final of FC Seoul vs Western Sydney Wanderers tonight will be on @TheFootballSack.


FC Seoul squad: Sang-Hoon YOO, Du-Ri CHA, Jin-Kyu KIM, Hyo-Jin CHOI, Osmar BARBA, Woong-Hee LEE, Myong-Jin KO, Yo-Han KO, Sang Hyup LEE, Everton SANTOS, Hee-Seong PARK, Kwang-Min KO, Yong-Dae KIM, Hyun-Tae CHOI, Sergio ESCURDO, Mauricio MOLINA, Joo-Young KIM, Il-Lok YUN.

Western Sydney Wanderers squad: Ante COVIC, Daniel MULLEN, Daniel ALESSI, Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, Antony GOLEC, Brendan HAMILL, Alusine FOFANAH, Mateo POLJAK, Yianni PERKATIS, Jason TRIFIRO, Iacopo LA ROCCA, Kwabena APPIAH, Labinot HALITI, Vitor SABA, Mark BRIDGE, Golgol MEBRAHATU, Dean BOUZANIS, Steve KUZMANOVSKI.
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Tara Andrews: Breaking the Victory duck

The Newcastle Jets defeated Melbourne Victory 1-0 in Round 1 of the W-League over the weekend. This is a historic win for Newcastle as we have never won against Melbourne in the seven years of W-League competition.

This is my sixth season playing with the Newcastle Jets and we have struggled to get out of the bottom ranks on the ladder, so I am sure you can imagine my excitement in achieving a victory over Melbourne.

Before the game and in the days leading up to the game, I was quite nervous, not just because it was going to be a competitive game of football, but because we only had one week of preseason training together as a complete squad and with our track record, who wouldn’t be nervous about the season ahead?

But I did have some quiet confidence about our team as we have recruited well over the off-season and with the addition of three Americans to the squad and both former and existing Matildas representatives, we seem to have great potential.

Game day was upon us and so many thoughts were given to what it would bring. The game started, we were in their half, we were in the eighteen-yard box and we had a shot. As soon as that had happened, the nerves had left and confidence in our team set in.

We had many chances and we finally broke deadlock in the beginning of the second half. We were winning, which is a very strange feeling for long-standing Jets player, and even better when we held them out for the entire game.

We won; it was so hard to believe that we actually won but quite a relief. It was in some ways a bittersweet victory as our captain and vice-captain from last season made the move to Melbourne to play this season.

So after only one game of the 2014/15 season, we have already tripled our points from last season. That gives a great feeling and eagerness to meet the challenge of the rest of the season. The challenge will continue with a hard-to-win game against Perth this weekend at home.


Tara Andrews is a long-time striker and current vice-captain for the Newcastle Jets, despite only being 20 years old, who recently spent time with the Colorado Pride and has represented Australia internationally with the Young Matildas. She holds the record for the most goals scored in a W-League match with four against Adelaide United. Keep up with Tara's weekly blogs throughout the 2014/15 Westfield W-League season here.
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W-League: McGuiness looks to future Jets triumphs

Following an upset that the Newcastle Jets are hoping will set the tone of the 2014/15 season, head coach Peter McGuiness now turns his focus to developing on the win that very few people saw coming.

“A new era,” McGuiness said when asked about what he is looking for in this season.


“We have a new team; we have a lot of our old team but a lot of new players as well and there’s a lot of experienced players.”

McGuiness believes that the focus of the season needs to be about bringing the stars of the future together with the international stars in the squad, including captain Emily van Egmond and vice-captain Tara Andrews, both of whom have played on the world stage and have a wealth of knowledge to impart.

“These girls have been involved in battles, they know how to fight.”

“They’ve been in battles in the highest level, whether it be in Emily’s case in the World Cup, or even the American girls that have played in the best women’s league in the world.”

“They’ve been in these kind of situations before and that’s helped a lot for them.”

Recruitment has been integral for McGuiness as he looks to return to form following a forgettable 2013/14 season that saw them take only a single point in the entire competition with a draw in the final day.

“We’ve filled the team with quality players and we’ve made sure that we’ve been organized and disciplined.

“[In the first game] we were really good first half and we were composed enough second half.”

McGuiness has chalked up confidence as a major part of the victory over Melbourne, with many of the younger girls pushed to greater heights when paired with the experienced stars.

“The performances have been great for the girls, they’re over the moon with the first win.

“These new imports have been in massive situations before and they’re bringing experience to the squad.”

Now the future beckons for the season, with the Newcastle Jets boss taking the season one game at a time, but with the freedom of climbing the ladder with him he plans to make sure he doesn’t let a good chance get away from him.

“The team is only as good as the last game,” McGuiness said about the form of the teams in the competition.

“Our last game’s a win,” he added cheekily.

“We’re looking to build on the three points now and improve again.”

McGuiness made sure to single out new recruit Yeoman-Dale after the upset on Saturday, and plans on using her to get affect in the coming games.

“Everyone played well in the win, but I was particularly pleased with Georgia [Yeoman-Dale].

“In the last game she managed to contain one of the best players going around – Lisa De Vanna, and she did it well.”

Already the Newcastle side has tripled their previous season’s final score, and McGuiness, captain Emily van Egmond and the rest of the squad – both new and old – now look to continue their upward path, with their eyes fixed on finals this year and a chance to turn over a new leaf.

It is a new era for the Newcastle Jets and it is shaping up to be an exciting season for the team and spectators alike.
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W-League: Sky Blues record routine win

Sydney FC recorded a routine 2-0 opening day win over Adelaide United at Lambert Park as on-loan American striker Jasmyne Spencer scored a goal in each half on debut.

It was in many ways a typical first game of the season for both sides. Sydney was dominant for most of the first half, but was largely frustrated in its efforts to break through as the Adelaide defence easily dealt with the home side's attempts to focus play through the middle, and otherwise happy to break up the game with fouls in the midfield.


The Sydney women's approach improved markedly after they started to work the ball out wide, with left back Samantha Johnson pushing high to support the attack and Amy Harrison finding space behind the Adelaide defenders on the right.

Indeed, it was Harrison who gave the game its first real opportunity – a ball over the top creating a one-on-one for the winger, which was smothered well by a charging Melissa Barbieri.

With half time approaching, the floodlights flickered into life and Sydney made a breakthrough, sending a dangerous ball into the box from the left side for Jasmyne Spencer.

The American forward, perhaps aware of the danger that the biggest cheer in the first half might've been reserved for a ball cleared over the stand and onto the road outside the stadium, rose well to beat two Adelaide defenders to the header and score her first goal for the Sky Blues.

The second half began brightly for Adelaide; a cross from Emily Condon deflected across Casey Dumont in the Sydney goal and onto the post, but there was little else from the away side for the remainder of the half.

Sydney pushed wide as they had done in the first period and Spencer slammed home her second of the game after she met a low cross in a crowded penalty area to double Sydney's advantage.

Eventually, it became clear that the match had been won, and Sydney enjoyed the vast majority of the last few spells of possession to close out the half.

Melissa Barbieri was in impressive form, and the scoreline could've blown out even further had she not made a series of difficult saves midway through the second half: another one-on-one first and an almost point-blank drive in the following minutes.

The referee waved away strong shouts from the bench for a Sydney penalty and Nicola Bolger hit the crossbar with a drive from outside the box before coach Alen Stajcic slowed the tempo with a double substitution in midfield.

"Sydney is sky blue!" shouted a small but dedicated gathering of Sydney FC supporters in the bleachers, with rivals Western Sydney Wanderers falling to a rampant Canberra United across the city, the chant's claim rung true.

Sydney will gladly claim the points and look forward to a clash with Brisbane Roar next weekend while Adelaide will need to gather its bearings and look for improvement against a high-flying Canberra United.



Sydney FC squad: Dumont (GK), Polias (c), Spencer, Uzunlar, Bolger, Harrison, Rollason, Tobin, Logarzo, Allen, Johnson

Subs: Harris (RGK), Ralston, Price, Makrillos


Adelaide United squad: Barbieri (GK), Steer, Pedersen, Woods, Hodgson, Alonso, McCormick, Holtham, Powell, Campagnale, Moore (c)

Subs: Willacy (RGK), Holmes, Condon, Borg
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W-League: Wanderers face reality check against Canberra

Despite glimpses of magic, the opening round of the W-League for the Western Sydney Wanderers was a distressing sign of what was perhaps to come for them this W-League season after falling short of a victory against reigning Champions Canberra United with the final score of 4-1.

It is clear that the Western Sydney Wanderers need to step up to the challenge of the 2014/15 Westfield W-League season.

A strong and energetic start was led by the Wanderers who failed to convert many chances into goals. Within the opening two minutes, United Striker Michelle Heyman managed to score a brilliant goal which unquestionably set the scene for the remainder of the game.

The strength of Canberra United's defence continuously rejected the Wanderers from transforming opportunities into goals, with Heyman once again taking the initiative for the Canberra side to increase its lead to 2-0 in the 40th minute.

The first half saw a dominance in the game led by Canberra United that the Wanderers were unable to contest, despite their calls for United players being guilty of a handball twice in the half alone.

The second half saw improvements, with the Wanderers finally settling into the game.

A corner by United's Stephanie Ochs in combination with Ellie Brush's header pushes Canberra United's lead to 3-0 at the 56th minute. Attempts were followed by both Helen Petinos and Michelle Carney but neither of them had the ability to change the score of the match.

Both teams made a variety of changes in the second half, with the Wanderers' clear intention being that of changing the scoreboard. Canberra continued their lead in the 75th minute with Caitlin Munoz scoring a goal increasing the score to 4-0, definitely exploiting the weaknesses in this seasons Wanderers squad.

In the final seconds of the game, Demi Kouzilakis manages to break the Wanderers goal scoring drought in her debut for the red and black. From what was a massive deflection, the Wanderers managed to score a goal that brought the final score of their first game in the 2014/15 season to 4-1.

Certainly, this brings forth the challenges that the Wanderers W-League side will face in the upcoming season, with their inability to convert chances into goals certainly being their main problem from the game.

Hopefully their next game against Melbourne Victory will spawn a sense of confidence for the new side with Canberra United's Michelle Heyman taking out the title of player of the match.



Western Sydney Wanderers squad: Caitlin COOPER (C), Jessica SEAMAN, Helen PETINOS, Rachael SOUTAR, Grace HENRY, Keelin WINTERS, Michelle CARNEY, Jordan BAKER, Tia GAVIN, Chloe O'BRIEN and Trudy BURKE (GK)

Substitutes: Lorena BUDGEN, Demi KOUZILAKIS ("90), Rhianna POLLICINA and Shamiran KHAMIS (GK).


Canberra United squad: Nicole BEGG (c), Catherine BROWN, Grace FIELD, Caitlin MUNOZ, Ellie BRUSH, Michelle HEYMAN, Ashleigh SYKES, Lori LINDSEY, Rebecca KITING, Stephanie OCHS and Chantel JONES (GK).

Substitutes: Julia DE ANGELIS, Grace GILL, Holly HOUSTON and Melissa MAIZELS (GK).
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W-League: Gill scores brace as Glory upset Roar

A new-look Perth Glory has upset Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Ashfield Sports Club in the opening round of the Westfield W-League.

The strong off-season, which saw the recruiting of four lured Matildas players to Perth, paid instant dividends for Glory coach Jamie Harnwell as his revitalised team upstaged a Roar outfit boasting a number of national representatives.


Matildas regular Kate Gill scored in both halves, but it was her partnership with the returning Sam Kerr that had everyone talking and is certain to make Glory a serious threat to this season’s W-League title.

Glory’s defence was equally impressive, with new recruits Alanna Kennedy and Canadian Shelina Zadorsky successfully combining as centre halves despite having limited time to train together.

The only defensive blunder came deep into injury time when Emily Gielnik was able to sneak a late consolation goal past new Perth goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.

Arnold was rarely called into action in the preceding 93 minutes, with the Roar forced to shoot from beyond the penalty area on several occasions.

Gill went agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the fifth and 10th minutes, but was unable to convert the chances presented to her from Kerr and veteran teammate Elisa D’Ovidio.

However, she made no mistake on the third attempt in the 12th minute, knocking the ball into the back of the net on the goal-line after Kerr threaded the ball through the Brisbane defence and past hapless goalkeeper Kate Stewart.

Gill and the speedy Kerr dominated the first half, creating endless headaches for central Roar defenders Brooke Goodrich and Kim Carroll.

Marianna Tabain was also influential in a high attacking role behind the main strikers.

Stewart kept Roar in the contest in the first half with a number of spectacular saves as Gill and Kerr continued to wreak havoc up front.

Kerr – back in her hometown after two seasons with Sydney FC and US outfit Western New York Flash – had several of chances throughout the match to put her own name on the scoresheet.

Her best chance came six minutes after half-time when she charged towards goals only to be brought down by Brisbane’s Hayley Raso in the box.

Gill stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner to register her second goal of the afternoon.

Glory captain Collette McCallum made a successful return from the knee injury which cut short her campaign last season, controlling the midfield and winning her battle with Roar pair Clare Polkinghorne and Elise Kellond-Knight.

Brisbane was by no means disgraced, but struggled to find avenues to goal without injured Matildas squad member Amy Chapman, who was forced to miss the opening round with a knee injury.



Perth Glory: 1. Mackenzie ARNOLD (GK), 2. Sarah CARROLL, 4. Bronwyn STUDMAN, 6. Alanna KENNEDY, 9. Caitlin FOORD, 12. Kate GILL, 13. Elisa D’OVIDIO, 14. Collette MCCALLUM (c), 15. Shelina ZADORSKY, 17. Marianna TABAIN, 20. Sam KERR

Subs: 7. Gabrielle MARZANO, 8. Shawn BILLAM, 16. Thia EASTMAN, 18. Gabrielle DAL BUSCO (GK)


Brisbane Roar: 2. Laura ALLEWAY, 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (c), 5. Brooke SPENCE, 6. Hayley RASO, 7. Kim CARROLL, 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 9. Larissa CRUMMER, 10. Katrina GORRY, 13. Tameka BUTT, 15. Brooke GOODRICH, 17. Emily GIELNIK, 19. Ayesha NORRIE, 20. Kate STEWART (GK)

Subs: 11. Vedrana POPOVIC, 14. Natasha WHEELER, 16. Angela BEARD, 21. Teagan MICAH (GK)
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Live Stream: NPL NSW Mens 1 Grand Final


You can watch the the IGA National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Grand Final between Blacktown City and Sydney Olympic live from Edensor Park below.

Commentary is from Simon Hill and Adam Santarossa. Kickoff at 4pm, but there's also a pre-game show from 3:30pm.

So if you can't get to the match, live stream it and support football in New South Wales.

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W-League: Jets break losing streak against champions

The Newcastle Jets have started the season strong with a 1-0 win over reigning champions Melbourne Victory at Magic Park, already recording more points than the previous season.

A few mistakes in the backline left the Newcastle defenders wide as Melbourne had its own chances, with Lisa De Vanna’s shooting prowess showing as the game settled.


Regaining the front foot, the Jets found a weakness in the reigning champions’ defence as Rhali Dobson and Tara Andrews joined Van Egmond and Rutter in the attack.

Unable to find the killer instinct needed to finish the chances, the half time closed with a 0-0 score-line.

Returning from half time, the Victory looked like they were sure to put themselves one up but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Opportunity struck for the Newcastle forwards in the 48th minute as Tara Andrews found herself facing down Brianna Davey in goals, but a failed chance was converted moments later by Angela Salem to put the Jets in the lead only minutes into the second half.

Desperate not to stay behind, Lisa De Vanna and impact sub Christine Nairn both led pressing attacks on Coelho’s goal but didn’t manage to finish their attempts.

The chances weren’t enough however, and Newcastle focused their entire game plan on defense, keeping the champions out to retain their 1-0 lead and close out the game.

The win for Newcastle marks only the second time in W-League history that a wooden spooner has defeated the reigning champions in a season, the first being in the 10/11 season when Newcastle defeated Sydney FC with a strike from halfway from Tara Andrews that sealed the match.

This game also marks the first time in the W-League history that the Jets have ever beaten Victory, with the closest they’ve ever previously come being a 1-1 draw to both take one point.

Starting strong in the season with the win, the Newcastle Jets now look to carry their form into the second round of the competition, while the Melbourne Victory will struggle to find their feet after a shocking upset so early.



Newcastle Jets Squad: 20. Claire COELHO (GK), 2. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE, 3. Hayley CRAWFORD, 4. Ashley SPINA, 5. Katherine REYNOLDS, 6. Angela SALEM, 7. Victoria HUSTER, 8. Amber NEILSON, 9. Tara ANDREW, 10. Emily VAN EGMOND (c), 11. Rhali DOBSON

Subs: 15. Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN, 16. Cassidy DAVIS, 17. Grace MACINTYRE, 21. Rene RUDDER (GK)


Melbourne Victory Squad: 1. Brianna DAVEY (GK), 2. Hannah BREWER, 6. Gemma SIMMONS, 7. Stephanie CATLEY (c), 8. Amy JACKSON, 9. Racheal QUIGLEY, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 15. Emma CHECKER, 16. Beatrice GOAD, 19. Maika RUYTER-HOOLEY

Subs: 10. Christine NAIRN, 14. Tiffany ELIADIS, 17. Gulcan KOCA, 20. Cassandra DIMOVSKI (GK)
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W-League Wanderers look for improvement

After what could be described as a disappointing 2013/14 season for the Western Sydney Wanderers W-League team, the appointment of Norm Boardman as the club’s head coach along with stellar signings could see the Wanderers women’s squad rise into the top four.

Placed seventh on the 2013/14 table, it is clear that head coach Norm Boardman desires a top four finish for the exciting upcoming season.

On-loan at WSW, holding midfielder Keelin Winters. Image provided by Western Sydney Wanderers
Certainly, the squad has been refreshed with an abundance of young players whom are Western Sydney locals being added to the team, which Boardman describes as bringing “plenty of excitement and energy, and they definitely bring the unexpected every now and again”.

The prospect of playing against reigning champions Canberra United in the opening weekend of the Westfield W-League was a welcomed challenge for the head coach.

"You are better off playing the best first and welcome that challenge, and some of the girls are excited about the fact that they have got Canberra first,” Boardman said.

The Wanderers will be hoping there isn’t a repeat of their record defeat against the Canberra squad last season, which saw the Wanderers suffer defeat in a final score of 5-0. The Wanderers also went down to Canberra 2-0 earlier in the season.

Boardman, placed a particular emphasis on the role in which United striker Michelle Heyman will play against the Wanderers on Sunday afternoon, also suggesting that a motivation for the players to play exceptionally well is the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, where players could be chosen to represent the Australian squad.

Despite the youthful and underdog aura that surrounds the Wanderers W-League team, the addition of Keelin Winters on loan from Seattle Reign adds a sense of maturity and wisdom to the squad.

Winters' certainly acknowledged that there were some “quality young players on this squad” but concluded that there were quality players throughout the squad, regardless of the age differences.

The aim for the club to be placed within the top four does not seem so farfetched when looking at Winters’ personal achievements, including her time spent at Bundesliga side FFC Turbine Potsdam and more recently Seattle Reign FC, which are both experiences Winters can bring to the Wanderers W-League squad.

Winters’ presence in the squad will certainly motivate the younger players to exceed their potential with the first round for the new squad perceived to be a chance to set the benchmark for their season.

“It will be good test for us to see where we are currently and where we need to get to, and so I think we’re going to be prepared for a fight and hopefully get a good result," Winters said.

Winters hopes that the loud and exhilarating atmosphere provided at the men’s Wanderers games can be matched at the women’s games.

"Those fans can come out and support the women’s side and bring that loud atmosphere, that loud atmosphere that everyone likes to play in."

Boardman echoed a similar calling.

"If we could get some of the Bloc at our games that would be fantastic."

This Sunday’s game will certainly bring pent up tension and passion between the two squads since the last last time they had met, as each squad will either conform or challenge their newfound reputations.

Canberra United may perhaps live up to their championship title, or the Wanderers may force an upset with the underdog reputation of the squad fuelling the players' potential to achieve a win in the first round.

The Western Sydney Wanderers will play Canberra United on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 3pm at Campbelltown Stadium, with the game also being played on ABC1 at 3pm.
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