The Canberra Times this week reported that Michelle Heyman is targeting a Matildas call-up. Impetus’ Kieran Yap outlines what the A-League Women’s all-time record scorer could add to Tony Gustavsson’s squad (2/10/22).
Above: Michelle Heyman lets fly for Canberra United against Brisbane Roar last season. The A-League Women legend is aiming at an international return.Photo: Canberra United.
The Canberra Times has reported that the A-League Women’s all-time leading scorer has targeted a return to The Matildas. Michelle Heyman’s international comeback could bring a new dimension to Australia’s attack.
The article, which can be read here (via a paywall) gives Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson another attacking option to ponder as the Matildas approach their remaining international friendlies ahead of the World Cup.
It is worth remembering that a national team squad is not a Team of the Week or Season. Of course, form is important, but it is a side that must function as a team, and sometimes that has little to do with a player’s statistics.
Michelle Heyman has produced impressive numbers over the past two seasons. 10 goals in 2020/21 and another nine in 2021/22 made her one of the best performing strikers in Australia. she was awarded the Julie Dolan medal at the end of her comeback season as recognition. But these statistics do not show her true potential value to the national side.
Heyman is a tactically different proposition to the other options in the current Matildas squad. She is dangerous on her left or right foot from anywhere within 25 yards, can play with her back to goal, and can drop deep to link up play or spread long passes to the wingers.
The Canberra star still possesses impressive pace and can score with power or a delicate chip over a keeper. The pace of international football is a significant step up from A-League level, but one of Heyman’s greatest assets is her vision and special awareness.
She knows where the spaces in a defence are and exploits them ruthlessly. Her unpredictability means that she often appears to score goals out of nothing. There is no “typical” Heyman goal in the same way you can describe what a Megan Rapinoe or Caitlin Foord strike would probably look like. She can adjust her technique to any split-second occurrence and has the confidence to try it.
Against stronger opposition, or in losing situations, Australia’s attack has looked isolated. The game plan seems to be to get the ball to positions that have the highest chance of scoring. The Matildas work the wings or attempt interplay to get behind the defence then try and square the ball in front of goal.
When it works, it is magnificent. Emily Van Egmond’s late equaliser against New Zealand was a perfect example of this. Sam Kerr’s finish to a stunning team move against Brazil was another, and in the Asian Cup, they were able to do this repeatedly against Indonesia. Against Canada Mary Fowler’s goal was scored from an almost identical position.
However, it is good to have options. In the same way that Kyah Simon offers something different to Sam Kerr, Michelle Heyman has abilities that only Mary Fowler can replicate, with experience that nobody else can.
In a desperate situation in a knockout game, bringing on the tall, fast and extremely mobile forward with 61 international caps not only changes the way Australia can attack, but changes the way the opposition have to defend.
Suddenly, Sam Kerr would have a player who could flick on long passes into her path. Just as quickly, the opposition manager must find a defender who can stop Heyman turning and shooting in attack and track her into midfield.
Heyman is likely to have another strong season at Canberra United, but regardless of how many goals she scores, she is the type of player that can make a huge difference with very little opportunity.
Tony Gustavsson has so far elected to trust youth and has uncovered some gems and future stars. The performances of the Young Matildas and Under 23 side mean that there are players that look ready to step up if needed, but there is a readymade option in Heyman.
Although much of his tenure has focussed on giving youth and debutants opportunities, Gustavsson has also shown that he is prepared to turn to experience when necessary. He has trusted Katrina Gorry with a central role in the side, when the brilliant playmaker has been more peripheral over the previous two managers, or at least since 2015.
Gorry’s particular set of skills have filled an important role in the side. Michelle Heyman can do the same.
If the Matildas manager needs a player to exploit an organized defence, or a game changer off the bench. Heyman is a perfect fit.
Impetus’ Blaise Ogutubrings the background to this weekend’s all-important games in the final round of the NWSL’s regular season (30/9/22).
Above: North Carolina Courage’s Debinha celebrates after scoring against Gotham FC. Photo: @TheNCCourage/Twitter.
Four teams have secured their place in the play-off rounds in the NWSL. Four more teams are in the hunt for the remaining two spots.
Four is also the magic number when it comes to the number of teams with a chance to win the Shield on the final day.
Let’s look at what this weekend looks like in this crazy end to the NWSL regular season.
San Diego Wave v North Carolina Courage
After leading the table for the most part of the season, San Diego find themselves in 4th place. They head into the final weekend hoping that the results of all the teams above them go in Wave’s favour in order to clinch the title. They secured a playoff spot last weekend with a 2-2 draw to Orlando Pride.
They however face a resurgent Courage side that is seeking a playoff spot. For them, a win sees them make the cut and effectively erase their poor form at the beginning of the season.
NJ/NY Gotham v Portland Thorns
Gotham FC have nothing to play for in the final game but their result potentially holds weight in the race for the shield as they welcome the Portland Thorns to New Jersey.
The Thorns became the first team to secure a place in the post-season when they ran out 3-0 victors against Racing Louisville on 22nd September. The two-time champions have a chance to add to their Shield tally with a win over Gotham which will see them retain the trophy they held aloft last season.
Washington Spirit v Houston Dash
The Washington Spirit have had a season to forget. Following their Championship win last season and an appearance at the Challenge Cup final this year, the team has struggled to get points on the board. This season they fail to feature in the post-season games.
With nothing to lose, they have the ability to deny Houston Dash a chance at the playoff table. Dash, for the whole season, have been battling top teams for the crown but recent inconsistent results have them still looking to secure a post-season appearance on the final day.
Racing Louisville v Kansas City Current
The Kansas City Current have had a meteoric rise to the top this season. At one point in the season, they were languishing at the foot of the table. That was before going on a 12-game unbeaten streak which saw them perch on top of the standings for the first time in their two-year history.
They have clinched the playoff spot and still have a shot at the Shield when they host Racing Louisville who are another team with a season to forget. They have recently picked up two wins in three games but it was too little too late to salvage a poor season for head coach Kim Bjorkegren.
OL Reign v Orlando Pride
The reverse fixture was a Megan Rapinoe show as she assisted and scored the winner in the dying minutes of a 2-1 comeback win for the OL Reign. It was part of Rapinoe’s late season antics which has pushed the Seattle-based team to second on the table with a chance at winning the Shield for the first time since 2015.
Orlando Pride have had a turbulent season with departures and off-field scandals haunting the team at the start of the season. Interim coach Seb Hines however found a way to steer the ship from rocky waters and compete for a while for the playoff spots. That was not to be as they lost a seven-game unbeaten streak and have gone five games without a win.
Chicago Red Stars v Angel City FC
The game with possibly the highest stake will coincidentally be the last game this weekend. Chicago sit in seventh, a point behind North Carolina who occupy the last playoff spot. Angel City are a point behind Chicago and a win for them plus a loss for North Carolina will see them clinch a playoff berth in their inaugural season.
Chicago fans have felt hard done by the injuries the team has suffered throughout the season but Chris Petrucelli and his team have ensured they stay within the playoff spots for the entire campaign. Angel City have also had their own injury woes but all that will be forgotten if they manage to get a victory away from home.
A season that has gripped NWSL fans the entire season boils down to this one weekend and with the playoffs ahead, there is still plenty more to come.
Impetus’ African Women’s Football Correspondent Emmanuel Faith identifies the players to watch from the continent who are playing their club football in Europe this season (30/9/22).
Above: Roselle Ayane, Tottenham Hotspur’s striker pictured playing for Morocco. Photo: The Athletic.
Records are getting broken, new bars are being set, stadiums are getting filled and wonder goals are being scored. It’s a new era for female football, and the spotlight is finally shining on the game. Isn’t it a great time to be alive?
Different leagues enjoy the beauty and variety of imported talents and those from the developing continents particularly warm their way into our hearts. Everyone loved Ji So Yun at Chelsea, Kumagai is still weaving wonders at Bayern Munich, Asisat Oshoala keeps making magic at Barcelona, and Rasheedat Ajibade is beginning to cement her name in the story of Atletico Feminine. Today, we are spotlighting African players you should watch out for in Europe this season.
Roselle Ayane: Born in Reading to a Moroccan father and a Scottish mother, the Tottenham Hotspur forward, who played at the youth level for England before choosing Morocco is one to watch out for this season. Ayane, who plays as a forward has struggled to live to her full potential, however, this might change this season. Despite having a slow start to her career at Spurs, she scored three goals in five matches in the Conti Cup last season and she would be hoping to replicate her exceptional form that saw her national team get to the finals of the recently concluded WAFCON.
Toni Payne: Born in Alabama to Nigerian parents, Payne started her career in the Netherlands with Ajax before moving to join the Primera Division club, Sevilla. The versatile player who plays on the wing, or as a third person in the midfield and recently a full-back, has cemented her spot in the Sevilla team, and this season might be a good time to stretch for more.
Ajara Nchout: It takes a lot of skills and ability to score a Puskas-worthy goal, and if you are seeking an audacious player who isn’t scared to take on defenders, score crackers and amass points for her team with wonder strikes, then Ajara is the one to call. The 2019 Puskas nominee is one of the biggest export Africa has in Europe, and with some level of consistency, Ajara would be looking to unlock new levels this season. Having bagged two goals in the opening four matches for her club, Inter-Milan, her brilliant start to the season is just a glimpse of the wonders to come.
Rasheedat Ajibade: The blue-hair player who dazzles with her dribbling skills plays for Atletico Madrid is definitely a rockstar to watch out for this season, her goal in the opening game of the season is a sign that she is ready to reach for more heights and beat any personal standards she might have set for herself last season.
Chiamaka Nnadozie: Last season, she won the Bruno Martini award for being the goal-keeping revelation of the season, and was ranked seventh in the world by the International Federation of Football History and statistics. The 22-year-old number-one shot-stopper is entrenching her name and we can expect another season of crucial saves and match-winning performances from the Nigerian star.
Asisat Oshoala: Any list of African female footballers in the last decade without Asisat’s name is incomplete. Winning a record-breaking fifth African player of the year and being the highest African player in the ESPN top 50 list, Oshoala would be looking to claim a spot in the starting 11 of her club, improve on her clinical ability in the box and hopefully deliver performances that would rank her higher as far as world recognition is concerned. Playing at a club like Barcelona Feminine comes with a lot of responsibilities, and being the first African to be nominated for Ballon d’Or is a great acknowledgement of her outstanding performances. Opening the season with a wondergoal means only one thing; Oshoala isn’t resting, and as far as flying the flag of the continent is concerned, she is only just starting.
There are other players like Ashley Plumptre of Leicester City, Christy Ucheibe of Benfica, Evelyn Badu of Avaldness IL in Norway, and Vicky Lopez (who is still eligible to play for either Spain or Nigeria. We can’t wait to see the wonders they would perform this season even as we look forward to the women’s World Cup next year.
Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from Melbourne City star Hannah Wilkinson and head coach Rado Vidosic as the Football Fern re-signs for the 2022/23 season. He also brings all the views ofMichaela Robertson – the first Wellington native to sign up for the Phoenix(30/9/22).
Above: Hannah Wilkinson – such a major player for Melbourne City last time round, is back in sky blue for the new season.Artwork: Melbourne City.
Melbourne City announced earlier today that New Zealand international Hannah Wilkinson, their key attacker from last term, will return to City for the new A-League Women’s season.
Wilkinson played in the competition for the first time in 2021/22, enjoying a brilliant season finding the back of the net 14 times in 14 appearances, wreaking havoc for defences across the competition.
No performance was more memorable than the Boxing Day Melbourne Derby, Wilkinson becoming the second City player in the calendar year to score five goals against our cross-town rival.
A dominant first season for City saw Wilkinson rocket into second in the club’s all-time Women’s leading scorer list, now just three goals behind Jess Fishlock (17).
Head Coach Rado Vidosic said securing Wilkinson’s signature was a big priority over the off-season.
“Hannah’s presence in the final third was huge for us all season and was a big factor in a number of the goals we scored. We’re delighted to welcome her back for the new season and look forward to seeing her again provide a focal point for us upfront. With plenty of experience and success all over the world, Hannah brings a great amount of leadership to our group.”
Wilkinson said it was an easy decision to return to City after an enjoyable first season in Melbourne.
“I loved our style of play and the exceptional players I had around me. I played some of my best football alongside those teammates, so I’m extremely excited to join up with them, along with some talented newcomers this season.
“I’d love to grab the Golden Boot I came so close to last season, but my goal is always to contribute to wins in any way I can. As a team, our collective goal is to win the double, which of course is the most important!”
Michaela Robertson is in line to become the first Wellingtonian and first Phoenix academy product to play for the women’s team.
The diminutive winger, who stands just 147cm tall, has signed on with the Nix for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, having spent the past two years with the academy’s emerging women’s programme.
“Wellington’s home for me so I’m excited about playing in front of my family and friends where my football started,” Robertson said.
“I’m really looking forward to my first pro season. Everything seemed to line up and there’s something about stepping into a role when it feels the timing is right.”
Robertson, 26, was the first women’s player to join the Phoenix academy on a full-time basis and believes it has helped her grow into a more well-rounded player.
“Training with the boys has been challenging. Obviously, they bring another level of physicality and pace which is something I tried to match and give them a good run for their money.
“But I think it’s helped me develop my game, with the quick-thinking and decision-making that’s required on the field. Also not being the tallest player I’ve needed to be strong and be able to hold the ball up and compete at that physical element of the game.
“It’s been something that I’ve had to develop over the years, but I think that’s been beneficial being at the academy surrounded by guys that are a lot stronger and a lot taller and bigger than me.”
The former Football Ferns squad member doubts she’ll be the last Phoenix women’s player to come through the club’s academy.
“I’m hoping to be able to inspire some of those girls coming through. There’s heaps of talent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those names in the squad in the years to come.”
Robertson hopes joining the Phoenix will help her get back in front of Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková, who has yet to call-up the winger since taking charge last year.
“This season’s going to be critical for me. After the Olympics, I took a bit of a break and I still feel like I’m on the back foot slightly. I haven’t made one of Jitka’s squads yet so I’m hoping ahead of the World Cup next year an opportunity will come my way.
“I hope Jitka’s watching our games and I think it’s a good opportunity for me to showcase what I can do and what strengths I can bring to the team.”
Michaela Robertson qualifies for one of the five Australian quota spots in the full-time squad, alongside foundation players Isabel Gomez and Brianna Edwards.
“My mum was born in Australia so I thought it’s best for me to come in as an Australian player and leave a Kiwi spot to develop another New Zealander. I’m lucky in that regard to sneak in as an Aussie, but I promise you I’m a fully-fledged Kiwi!”
Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence played with Robertson, when she first played senior football as a teenager, and has previously coached her at Capital Football.
“What’s really cool about Mickey is she’s got a lot of different experiences,” Lawrence said.
“She’s been involved with the Ferns, she went to the Olympics, she’s been in FFDP (Football Ferns Domestic Programme) and she’s a product of the Phoenix academy.
“She’s done the hard yards and really stuck at it. Playing with and against boys every single week is tough, but she’s done it because of the level of football she wants to play at.”
Lawrence believes Robertson will “bring heaps to the team both on and off the field”.
“She’s quick, she’s smart, she has an eye for goal, she has great experience and I know what I’ll get from her. She’s a massive fit for how we want to attack and our attacking threat this season. She’s also an amazing human being, one of the nicest humans you’ll ever meet.”
For this week’s WA On Wednesday feature, Subiaco head coach Greg Farrell spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about the club’s most successful season in the NPLW WA, the work involved, and ensuring that next season can build on the foundations of this year (29/9/22).
Above: Subiaco head coach Greg Farrell with Zoee Spadano, formerly of Perth SC, who he coached for futsal. Photo supplied by: Greg Farrell.
Subiaco have just had the best season in the club’s NPLW WA history, and guiding them through it was head coach Greg Farrell. Whilst this was his first campaign in charge at the Rosalie Park club, he came with a strong reputation.
Looking at his own personal footballing journey, Farrell reflected: “I came through the representative pathways in Queensland, having played for my junior club Loganholme Soccer Club until I was 14. I also played senior football within the XXXX league (now NPL) and the BPL in Brisbane.
“I’m a school teacher by trade, and now work in the futsal space of football, trying to develop the 5-a-side game and get players such as Zoee Spadano (the former Perth SC player who moved to Italy recently to pursue a pro futsal career) who I’ve coached since she was 12, opportunities to play futsal professionally overseas. I run Futsal WA and the elite league the Supa-Liga will hopefully continue to produce more players as it did Zoee for professional opportunities.”
This season saw Subiaco win more games (six) alone than they had in their previous NPLW WA history, and consequently amass their highest-ever points tally (21). It was the consequence of a lot of hard work, as Farrell identified.
“This season has certainly seen a great deal of change on the female side of the club at Subiaco AFC. I think what we’ve done this season has been on the back of a great deal of hard work from former players and club staff.
“Having a base, and terrific support networks with advanced football people like Adi Juric and Branko Jelic has been terrific for me, especially as I came into the club so late (two weeks before the season began). I was lucky enough to also be able to bring in a few players who I’d coached before or knew from futsal that gave us an improved squad who would be capable of playing a possession-based style of football over time. We were also then very lucky to be able to recruit three high-level players mid-season which then gave us more composure and abilities that we had been lacking.”
Those three players were Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna, another Australian international in Ella Mastrantonio, and Marianna Tabain who spent nine seasons with Perth Glory either side of a year at Melbourne City.
However, before those three arrived, Farrell was busy introducing a new playing style at such short notice, and ensuring his squad had a realistic expectation of where they were in the game.
“We essentially spent the first nine or ten rounds of the season playing catchup and trying to have the players learn to play in a new system, with new team-mates, while playing competitive matches, and dealing with an unavailability list that was contributed to by a disjointed pre-season and covid.
“Players were told at the start of the season that there would be people unhappy with their playing time because they’d been told they were at a certain level, which was very much not the case. Most of them showed a strong mentality and got stuck in, the results and performances for both teams were much better than in the past, and the players were improving week on week.
“We’d equalled the record points and goals haul and then were able to bring in Marianna Tabain, Lisa De Vanna, and Ella Mastrantonio, we asked them to do as much as they could in training and games to help the inexperienced players that we had, to improve, and they bought into that idea and were great influences on the existing squad.
“Both Ella and Marianna missed a game or two with niggly injuries during that time but were there on the bench with the players, and that commitment, which had been shown previously by players like Liz Wallwork who missed eight weeks and Kez Burgess who missed four-six, was a terrific show of leadership.”
Those developments were a key part of the Subiaco head coach’s desire to fill his inexperienced players with belief, resilience, and the ability to produce results like never before.
“I wanted Subiaco to be considered a football club that encouraged female players to play proactive, possession-based football where players were confident and encouraged to always want the ball and to not be afraid of making mistakes as they learn,” Farrell said. “If I could instil that into the group, the players and teams would improve, and over time, the results would then also improve, and they wouldn’t be susceptible to loss of confidence because of an individual result.”
That was hugely important, as for quite a long spell of the campaign, Subi had to draw on players with little or no experience of NPLW WA football.
“For a period of four-five weeks we had between 12 and 17 players from the first team or under-21s unavailable, and so we leaned heavily on the amateur Division Two squad, which was the team that had been earmarked for the defunct under 18 league. We’ve also had Zara Board and Marissa Pidgeon in Zara’s absence, two of the best keepers in WA, and then Chelsie Winchcombe was also a terrific leader for the group and helped with the intention of playing the best football we could, regardless of the result.”
Whilst it was the trio of De Vanna, Mastrantonio, and Tabain who caught the headlines in Subiaco’s record-breaking season, the club’s achievements this season were down to more than their presence. Farrell was keen to share the bigger picture behind Subi’s success.
“There was the promotion of Daisy Groenelwald from our junior boys’ team, we also had Melissa Shepherd’s availability line up from work much better in the back half of the season. But if you look at the number of passes per game, the possession statistics, we were moving in the right direction but lacked a cutting edge up front.
“We beat the NTC and drew with them, had a 1-0 loss to RedStar, and were leading Fremantle 1-0 until the 65th minute at Fremantle without those players. The quality they (De Vanna, Mastrantonio, and Tabain) added on the field was at least matched by the positivity and improvement they also helped with on the training field, and that was the more important thing for us as a club.
“At the end of the day, the people who complained (that Subiaco’s progress was just down to being able to bring those three players in) are small-minded, they aren’t thinking about the fact that Subiaco brought three of Australia’s best footballers back into WA football. Those same people are probably also the ones complaining that good players are all leaving WA.”
Subiaco are known to be a club with a good junior set-up, something I witnessed myself back in August, but Farrell wants to make sure that this continues to be an ever-improving one for the female side of the club.
“It was something I highlighted when I started as a necessity to continue to improve upon. I’d say there’s a more smooth pathway on the boys’ side of things with the NPL pathway, but that’s as much down to Football West as anything else. Now that more age groups are being added to the female side of the game, hopefully, there will be more of a flow to the development pathway for the girls, where at the moment the two-year gaps causes bottlenecks to occur and often stunts the development of some players.
“We will concentrate very heavily in the next few years on improving the standards within the female side of the club, from moving towards three training sessions per week for juniors and seniors to coaching standards, everything that can be done to ensure that the players are getting the best they possibly can needs to be done.
Subiaco’s successes from this season will now put a different light on the club and different expectations for the 2023 season. Farrell knows this and is looking forward to having a full pre-season with his squad and being able to select new players he believes will enhance his team.
“We have to keep progressing and that was something that I said after we drew with the then defending champions Murdoch University Melville in round one, people will not treat Subiaco like an easy beat if we continue to improve and develop a proactive style of football.
“Those three players will hopefully return next season and we’d certainly like to bring in some fresh faces as well, especially younger players who are still developing so that they can fit in alongside the young players we already have and begin to learn from those and other senior players.
“Having a pre-season together will certainly make a difference as well, with the fitness levels from the last pre-season being well below where they should’ve been for the NPLW, that will be a key part of pre-season and building into 2023.”
Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from the latest member of Western United‘s inaugural squad, Sydney Cummings, and head coach Mark Torcaso(29/9/22).
Artwork: Western United.
Towering international centre-back Sydney Cummings has signed for Western United ahead of its inaugural season in the Liberty A-League Women.
The 23-year-old arrives having been a member of the San Diego Wave FC squad that currently leads the league in the United States National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Standing at 5’10” tall, Cummings graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. having spent her first three years in College at Brown University.
Cummings was drafted by Racing Louisville FC in the 2022 NWSL draft before later signing for San Diego, where she has featured on the bench on multiple occasions in a team including USWNT star Alex Morgan and Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond.
A multi-capped Guyana international, the US-born Cummings brings incredible experience at such a young age and is relishing a fresh challenge in a new country and at an inaugural club.
“The league in Australia has always been talked about so highly, and I felt like it was such a great opportunity for me to try to elevate myself as a player,” she said.
“I’m really excited for that aspect and that challenge of being in Australia and learning more from the people there. Having the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural season is very meaningful. It’s a great honour and a fantastic opportunity, especially because what Mark and the staff at Western are creating has the potential to be something really special.”
Western United head coach Mark Torcaso said Cummings’ attributes will make her a near immovable force at the back.
“Sydney is incredibly tall, incredibly strong, and athletic and will be a physically dominant force in the A-League,” he said.
“In addition to those strengths, she also reads the game superbly well and has all of the top-level awareness and ball-playing skills that you want in a centre-back. Even though she is only 23 years of age she has great experience under her belt, so she will be brilliant in helping lead our younger players at the back and contribute from the start.”
Cummings will be a threat from attacking set pieces with her height and determination in aerial duels but is equally adept on the ground with strength and pace at the back.
She joins a defensive line that includes young Victorian talents Silver Bell Morris and Natasha Dakic, as well as more experienced A-League Women players in Tyla-Jay Vlajnic and Julia Sardo.
Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from England head coach Sarina Wiegman as her team’s final opponents for this historic year are announced (29/9/22).
Above: Norway’s Ada Hegerberg is one of the top stars that the Lionesses will face in the November international window. Photo: Olympique Lyonnais.
England’s final matches of 2023 will see them meet fellow FIFA Women’s World Cup finalists Japan and Norway in Murcia, Spain this November.
The Lionesses are to spend the final international window of the year at the Pinatar Arena football centre as they look to close out a positive year on a high. It all began with victory in the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup in February, followed by the historic UEFA Women’s Euros success in July, and will next see the United States and the Czech Republic travel to England for matches in October.
The first of the November fixtures in Spain will be Japan on Friday 11 November (KO TBC), followed by a meeting with Norway, who Sarina Wiegman’s squad famously demolished during the Euros group stage, on Tuesday 15 November (KO TBC).
England last faced Japan in the 2020 edition of the SheBelieves Cup in the United States with England coming out on top with a 1-0 victory in New Jersey. Norway were drawn in Group A alongside England at this summer’s Euros with an historic 8-0 victory in Brighton securing the Lionesses’ progression to the quarter-final. The fixture will see the return of Hege Riise who took charge of England on an interim basis in 2021 before leading Team GB to the last eight of the Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking about the selection of her team’s final opponents for the year, England head coach Sarina Wiegman said: “I am really pleased we can continue to test ourselves against strong opposition, especially as we are fully focused on our preparation for the World Cup.
“Japan are one of the best teams in Asia and offer a different style of play to what we are used to. Norway had a difficult summer, however, they qualified directly for the World Cup and I am confident they will bounce back. They have always proven to be a strong opponent, and the staff and players will look forward to welcoming Hege again too.
“With both teams wanting to make a good impression as they build towards a major tournament, it will be a great opportunity to see where we stand. Furthermore, I hope a change of scenery and good climate for that time of year can contribute to keeping the players fresh after what has been an exciting and at the same time intense year for all.”
Both opponents have qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with the final tournament draw to be held on Sunday 22nd October hosted in Auckland.
Above: The Matildas team that faced Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup at the start of this year. Photo: Football Australia.
Australia will complete their 2022 international calendar in Gosford as they meet Thailand in the second match of the Seven Consulting International Series on 15 November at Central Coast Stadium in New South Wales.
Two-time defending Olympic silver medallists, Sweden, have already been locked in for a Saturday afternoon classic at AAMI Park on 12 November with Thailand rounding out the calendar.
It is a welcome return to Gosford after 11 years for the women’s national team with the last time being as part of a two-match FIFA Women’s World Cup farewell series against New Zealand in 2011.
Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said: “We are pleased to be able to bring the Matildas to another strong football region of Australia. Hosting the final match of 2022 at Gosford is a wonderful chance to highlight the world-class facilities at Central Coast Stadium and the strong support for our national teams in the region.”
“This year we have seen an exciting mixture of teams in the schedule with nations covering Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania, and facing Thailand is a key component of the Matildas’ preparations for the World Cup.”
“We are appreciative of the collaboration from the Football Association of Thailand and look forward to hosting them ahead of their World Cup inter-confederation play-off.”
A two-time World Cup participant, Thailand are one of ten teams to have qualified for the World Cup inter-confederation play-offs to be held in February next year.
Australia and Thailand last met at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year with the Matildas continuing their undefeated streak.
Meanwhile, Australia announced this morning that the venue for their friendly with South Africa next Saturday will be Kingsmeadow Stadium in South-West London. Tickets are on sale from the home club, Chelsea Women’s website as Australia’s all time leading scorer Sam Kerr will don the green and gold on her club stadium.
Tickets for the game against Thailand encounter will go on pre-sale for Football Account holders on 6 October 2022 with the General Public tickets window opening on 7 October 2022 from www.ticketek.com.au.
$1 (plus GST) from every ticket sold will be donated to the CommBank ParaMatildas, the 2022 IFCPF Women’s World Cup silver medal-winning women’s national team for female footballers with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, or symptoms from stroke. Ticketing information is available from the official CommBank Matildas website at www.matildas.com.au.
Impetus’ Johnathan Stack was at St. George’s Park for us and heard England head coach Sarina Wiegman unveil her latest Lionesses squad and explain reasons for selections and those who missed out (28/9/22).
Above: England head coach Sarina Wiegman has announced her latest Lionesses team. Photo: Sky Sports.
Lionesses Head Coach Sarina Wiegman has named her squad for the games against the USA and the Czech Republic.
There are five players named in the squad that was not in the last time round. Fran Kirby is recalled alongside golden girl Chloe Kelly to the squad following injury, Esme Morgan of Manchester City gets her second call-up, and there are also first-time call-ups for West Ham’s Lucy Parker and Everton’s Jess Park. Plus, four drop out of the squad Jordan Nobbs, Beth England, Nikita Parris, and Lottie Wubben-Moy.
England faces a tough test in the form of the World Champions USA at a 90,000 sell-out at Wembley Stadium, then four days later the Lionesses head down south to Brighton to face the Czech Republic at the American Express Community Stadium.
Speaking at the squad announcement press conference, Wiegman gave her thoughts to the two players brought into the Lionesses fold for the first time.
“We have 10 months to prepare for the World Cup. There are talented players knocking on the door,” Wiegman said. “We have followed Jess Park for a while. I think she can play up front but also in midfield. She is a little more dropping inside now. It is exciting for her. We made the final decisions after the last match. We didn’t have lots of opportunities, so we wanted to use those games to finalise our decisions.”
England’s head coach also explained what caught her eye about Lucy Parker’s game: “Lucy Parker is very athletic. She has had some injuries but has had good preparation and good games. It will be good to see what they can do compared to some more experienced players.
“There were hard conversations and hard choices. When you look at the team it is very competitive in the different positions. We look at quality, talent, being fit and having playing minutes with your team, then winning the competition for ones you are in the same position as.”
There was no room this time round for Manchester United’s Maya Le Tissier despite her impressive start to the WSL season. Wiegman gave her reasoning behind the decision.
“Maya did very good, it’s really nice that she scored, but her main job is not scoring, it’s defending, it’s the build-up, she did very well but the other players did a little bit more. “We are watching her, she’s in the U23s, there are lots of very good players in the U23s ready to come in and at the moment these are the players we picked.”
England Squad to face USA & Czech Republic:
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Sandy MacIver, Ellie Roebuck
Impetus’ Nathan Edwards heard from Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes ahead of tonight’s Women’s Super League clash with West Ham United at Kingsmeadow(28/9/22).
Above: Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes is expecting her team to build on Sunday’s second half performance against Manchester City when they take on West Ham United tonight. Photo: Sky Sports.
Emma Hayes has said Chelsea’s victory against Manchester City is “just the beginning” as they face West Ham United this evening in the Women’s Super League.
Chelsea fell to a shock defeat to newly-promoted Liverpool on the opening day, but bounced back against title rivals Manchester City the following weekend.
Fran Kirby and Maren Mjelde scored either side of the interval to set Chelsea up with their first three points of the season.
Talking about that victory, Hayes said “I think you have to realise that was our second game of the season.
“We haven’t developed any momentum and the two games were sandwiched between two international camps and game cancellations so, for us, we want to build on the momentum.”
During the early stages of the season, Chelsea have failed to stamp their authority onto the matches, with it taking late into the first half to gain control of the match against the Citizens on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the West Ham game at Kingsmeadow, the Chelsea head coach reflected: “We had a good second half performance (against City) and I think I will be looking for the good things we developed in the second half and most importantly the things we are working on in training.”
As for the Blues’ opponents, they have had an indifferent start but despite heading to east London on the back of a home defeat to Manchester United, Hayes is expecting a strong response.
“They had some good form throughout pre-season and on the opening day, but it is about us focusing on ourselves and executing our strategy.”
Ahead of the kick-off against the Hammers, both teams will pay respect to Chelsea groundsman, Dave McKnight, who passed away last Sunday.
Hayes said, “Everyone is really devastated. Those close to him know what an incredible man he was, and he did everything he possibly could for our football club, and we send our condolences to his family.
“It is important we pay our respects and put in the best possible performance for him.”