A-League Women Preview

Impetus kicks off our third season covering the top tier of women’s football in Australia with Kieran Yap (KY)’s assessment of each of the club’s best close-season signings and Ben Gilby (BG)’s predictions of where the teams will finish.

ADELAIDE UNITED

Key Signing: Shadeene Evans

Artwork: Adelaide United.

Adelaide have mostly tried to keep their team from last season together. Although they have lost Dylan Holmes and Charli Grant to Europe and Cote Rojas to Sydney FC, the majority of the players have returned.

One of their most significant additions is young striker Shadeene Evans. The prodigy of the John Moriarty Foundation is poised to make a big impact after joining the Reds.

She has a singular A-League Women’s appearance with Sydney FC in 2019 but has been in the Young Matildas setup and will provide Adelaide with another dimension to their attack after the loss of Maria ‘Cote’ Rojas.

Alongside Chelsie Dawber, she will get playing opportunities at Adelaide, expect her to make the most of them (KY).

Prediction: The loss of Grant, Holmes, and Rojas is going to make it harder than the club would have liked to make their first-ever place in the Finals. 6th (BG).

BRISBANE ROAR

Key Signing: Katrina Gorry

Artwork: Brisbane Roar

She’s back. In a huge boost for Brisbane and for the league, Katrina Gorry has returned to the squad.

“Mini” was in sparkling form in the first half of last season and following the birth of baby Harper, she will once again don the number 10 for the Roar.

In an article for the PFA, Gorry said that had recently started training at Football Queensland. In another comment both inspiring and ominous, she stated that pregnancy and childbirth had made her feel “unstoppable.”

Gorry might not be ready to play by round one, but she is a player of rare talent. A pure playmaker, she is quick-footed, has incisive passing ability, and has a rocket of a right boot.

The former AFC player of the year is simply one of the best midfielders Australia has produced. Her experience and ability will be even more valuable in a new-look Brisbane side (KY).

Prediction: This is a very different Brisbane Roar side to the one that had such a strong season before the Finals last year. Their 2021/22 campaign depends on how the large number of local youngsters gel. I’m going for a conservative prediction of 7th but if everything clicks they will be dangerous (BG).

CANBERRA UNITED

Key Signing: Allira Toby

Artwork: Camberra United

Canberra’s impressive run last season was cut short in the semi-final by Sydney FC. The swashbuckling side struggled in the absence of Dolan medalist Michelle Heyman after she was ruled out by injury.

Manager Vicki Linton has addressed this issue with some experienced support for the all-time leading scorer.

Allira Toby has two Golden Boot’s to her name from her time with Brisbane Roar and after a goalless season with Sydney FC can be expected to thrive alongside or as back-up to Heyman.

Canberra are missing their other star attackers. Paige Satchell has gone in the opposite direction to Sydney and Nikki Flannery is yet to return from a knee injury.

Toby is not the same type of player as these two but she will play a vital role if Canberra United are to challenge again (KY).

Prediction: Despite the loss of Paige Satchell and Jessika Nash, Canberra still have a large number of exciting and threatening players. For me, they are likely to be part of a log-jam of three clubs trying to claim the last spot in the finals and ultimately I suspect it will come down to them or Perth. With the Canberra side that slightly bit more settled I am just going to edge them ahead, but it could go either way. 4th (BG).

MELBOURNE CITY:

Key Signing: Sally James

Artwork: Melbourne City

Melbourne City has always had a top-level goalkeeper at the club. Last season Tegan Micah was the shining light in a difficult year, before her Lydia Williams donned the gloves.

This season, they have one of Australia’s most promising young players under the tutelage of Rado Vidosic and fellow keeper/coach Melissa Berbieri.

Sally James has been signed to take over from Micah. After a breakout season at Canberra United she has joined City in the next step in her still very young career.

The 18-year-old struggled toward the end of last season with injuries but did enough to earn a place in the Matildas Talent ID camp and then the transitional squad before the Olympics.

James’ arrival is also a sign that despite the difficult last season, City remain a destination club. They are still capable of attracting some of the most sought after players in the league (KY).

Prediction: It will take something special to prevent the honours this season being a straight fight between the two Melbourne-based sides. A City team with Emma Checker rallying them and the late announcement of Winonah Heatley will ensure that the Sky Blues are back to their best this season. 2nd (BG).

MELBOURNE VICTORY:

Key Signing: Courtney Nevin

Artwork: Melbourne Victory

Jeff Hopkins has worked hard to keep the majority of his Grand Final winning side together. The defence was essential to Victory’s season, after a 6-2 loss to Brisbane Roar they went on a succession of 1-0 wins to ensure their top-four position.

The newly assembled back four formed a quick chemistry but when Angie Beard departed for Europe it meant that Victory had to replace one of their best players, captain and left back.

Victory soothed any supporter worries in the best possible way. Courtney Nevin is an experienced A-League Women’s player, a specialist left-back and now a senior Matilda.

She may not be as quick as Beard or as likely to surge into the penalty box but she is an excellent defender who can deliver a good long pass or cross.

It is a case of one Matilda out and another one in for Melbourne Victory. They remain as strong as they were last season (KY).

Prediction: On paper they have the strongest squad. Courtney Nevin is an inspired signing and along with the superstar that is Kyra Cooney-Cross and strong leadership from Kayla Morrison, they are going to take some stopping. 1st (BG).

NEWCASTLE JETS:

Key Signing: Tara Andrews

Above: Tara Andrews. Photo: Newcastle Jets

It is not really a surprise by this stage. Along with Gema Simon, Tara Andrews lacing up for Newcastle is a reliable part of the pre-season.

That does not mean it should be any less celebrated.  Andrews is a loyal Jet and also one of the best centre-forwards in the country. Her power inside the penalty box often overshadows her finesse in other areas.

She can drop deep, drag defenders out of position, and link play through the middle.

Andrews is a difficult match-up for defenders and only needs half a chance to score with either head or foot.

She is coming off her best season so far at Newcastle and at the age commonly considered to be the peak years for a footballer.

Newcastle will need to sign some support for her upfront with the departure of Rihanna Pollicina to Melbourne City but retaining their best attacking asset is a big win for the club and the fans (KY).

Prediction: Newcastle are a side who are capable of producing results far better than their league positions consistently suggest. They were a team I really enjoyed watching last season and are a side who have potential to push for Finals, but it will be results in the games with teams around them in the table which will decide their fate. If these go well, then top six is possible, if not, 9th (BG).

PERTH GLORY:

Key Signing: Susan Phonsongkham

Artwork: Perth Glory

Perth Glory have recuited more aggressively than almost any other team this season. Alex Epakis identified the players he needed to improve the team and secured them early.

Among the exciting talents that Perth have added to their roster is striker Susan Phonsongkham.

The Young Matilda in full flight is an entertaining and explosive talent. The prospect of her linking up with Gemma Craine, Hana Lowry and Alana Jancevski is an exciting one.

Of the young recruits, Phonsongkham is one of the more experienced. She has four seasons under her belt at Western Sydney and won the Golden Boot in the NSW NPLW in 2019.

After missing last season, she is fit and primed to light up the league and Perth Glory will give her the stage to do it (BG).

Prediction: Perth are a team on the rise and there is a sense of real excitement about how Alex Epakis will blend a team of youngsters and experience. The arrival of Lisa De Vanna late in pre-season will have a great deal of impact one way or another. The only question mark for me as to whether or not Glory can make Finals is how all the new faces will come together. My heart says Perth will do it, but the closer the season draws, my head cannot help but think Canberra may edge them out. 5th (BG).

SYDNEY FC:

Key Signing: Sarah Hunter

Artwork: Sydney FC

The 2020/21 season was one that outperformed most people’s expectations. Following the exodus of national team players and the restrictions on recruiting from overseas, young players were given the chance to start more games and show what they could do.

One of the standout beneficiaries of this was Sarah Hunter. Then at Western Sydney, the midfielder was trusted with a role in central midfield and announced herself with a brace against Adelaide, aged just 17 at the time.

Beyond that game she was an energetic, dangerous and combatative midfielder. Her performances were particularly impressive given that she was completing high school at the same time as she was beginning her senior football career.

Sydney FC finished top of the table and reached the Grand Final with significant contributions from Clare Wheeler and Theresa Polias in midfield.

In the absence of both these stars, Hunter should again be given opportunities to show what she can do.

She has unimaginably big boots to fill in the centre of the park and is a different player to the other two. However she is a huge talent in an area of the pitch that Sydney need to reinforce and is unafraid to impose herself on a game (KY).

Prediction: This Sydney FC team is packed full of exciting players. With Cote Rojas, Remy Siemsen, Jessika Nash and Paige Satchell, they are going to take some stopping and offer the best chance of denying a Melbourne based side another Grand Final win. 3rd (BG).

WELLINGTON PHOENIX

Key Signing: Lily Alfeld

Artwork: Wellington Phoenix

Lily Alfeld was the first signing by the competition’s newest team. She was often spectacular last season as the last line in a busy Perth Glory defence.

Wellington remains somewhat of a mystery for their inaugural campaign but with Alfeld between the sticks, fans can be confident that opposition strikers will have to earn their goals.

Alfeld was one of the top three goalkeepers last year alongside Tegan Micah and Grand Final winner Gaby Garton. She is a strong first signing by Wellington and will provide confidence and leadership for the newly assembled squad (KY).

Prediction: The greatest of the unknowns in the competition, but a largely very young squad have lost the opportunity to maximise the biggest weapon up their sleeve – home matches – until February at the earliest. It’s going to be tough, but their long term success is the most important thing. 10th (BG).

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS

Key Signing: Bianca Galic

Above: Bianca Galic. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong.

Galic’s signing is one that strengthens The Wanderers while weakening a potential top-four rival.

Western Sydney will be aiming for a finals position and have taken one of Canberra United’s best performers. Galic is a skilful, composed midfielder. She will combine with Libby Copus-Brown in the centre of the pitch and provide stability and passes for the pacy attack to do their thing.

Galic was one of Catherine Cannuli’s first signings as new coach of the Wanderers as a sign of the esteem that she is held in.

This is a good signing by the Wanderers that will more than soften the blow of Sarah Hunter’s departure (KY).

Prediction: Wanderers are a tough side to predict, I feel. Like the Jets, they do possess a Finals chance and everything will come down to the games against the likes of Newcastle, Brisbane and Adelaide United. Win them and the dream is alive. If not, then 8th beckons (BG).

Once more Impetus will be covering the A-League Women season in-depth. Our writing team of Ben Gilby, Kris Goman and Kieran Yap will provide you with:

  • Match reports and photos.
  • Profiles and interviews with top players and coaches from the competition.
  • For the first time this year, we have access to all the club media events to bring you even closer to the action.
  • AND look out for our NEW weekly #ALW Impetus Impact Awards for player, coach, and incident every Monday!

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

How Prepared Are The Matildas For Tournament Mode?

After their back-to-back friendlies with World Champions USA watched by record crowds, ImpetusKieran Yap considers how things stand after a tough 2021 for the Matildas. With the 2022 Asia Cup coming in January, he also looks at the depth in different positions ahead of the competition.

Above: The Matildas group together after a run of matches against the world’s top teams. Photo: Football Australia.

The Matildas recent results have been humbling, to say the least. In 2021, they have lost almost all of their friendly matches. A 3-1 win over Brazil last month being the only outlier.

Looking at the scorelines alone is misleading though. So far this year, Tony Gustavsson’s first in charge, Australia has played five of the top 10 teams on earth.

We all know that FIFA world rankings are not always reliable (Belgium currently sit atop the men’s rankings despite having won nothing). But in the case of women’s football, it feels pretty accurate.

European sides have a statistical advantage in the FIFA rankings because they play competitive games more often. But this also means they are match fit, battle-hardened, and in sync as teams.

The rankings might not be fair, but they are pretty accurate.

Australia has chosen to play these games.  To be able to compete with the best, you need to test yourself as often as possible.

To quote a (non-football playing) famous American, “We are doing these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Having said that, Australia has a major event next year. The 2022 Asian Cup is Tony Gustavsson’s first opportunity to coach the team in a tournament that they not only can win but are expected to.

Looking at the three areas of the pitch, how prepared is Tony Gustavsson’s side to win the 2022 Asian Cup?

Forwards

Above: Generational star Mary Fowler. Photo exclusive for Impetus: Kris Goman.

This is the area of the pitch that Australia is not lacking for depth. At Gustavsson’s disposal are a range of dangerous and versatile attackers. Hayley Raso is lighting quick and committed to the point of concern, Emily Gielnik can score from seemingly anywhere, Caitlin Foord is in form at Arsenal and Kyah Simon may not be scoring at Spurs but continues to pop up with vital contributions for The Matildas (even after one nearly impossible miss).

Mary Fowler is turning into a generational talent and waiting in the wings are Bryleeh Henry and Remy Siemsen. Of all these players only Siemsen and Henry have yet to score at international level, but their quality is evident to anybody who watches them play.

There is also Sam Kerr, but what more can be said?

This is an area of the team that only causes positive headaches for Gustavsson. Who does he choose and where do they play? The possibilities are countless, but that is a good problem to have.

Midfield

Above: Clare Wheeler – an immediate answer as a defensive midfielder. Photo: Football Australia.

The unavailability of Chloe Logarzo and Elise Kellond-Knight remains an issue.

We have seen some clues as to how Australia is approaching this problem. The crisis in the middle of the park has turned into an opportunity, but some questions still remain.

Clare Wheeler did enough in a five-minute appearance on Tuesday to suggest she is the immediate answer in defensive midfield, but beyond her, there is not much depth.

Emily van Egmond, Kyra Cooney-Cross, and Tameka Yallop are all attackers by instinct. Katrina Gorry has stated she is aiming for a comeback to the national team but she is another creator.

Currently, the midfield has plenty of artists, not enough graft-ists.

The answer might lie in the A-League Women’s season. A player might suddenly go up another level as Wheeler did for Sydney FC or Dylan Holmes did for Adelaide United.

It remains surprising that Holmes has not been selected since a mixed but overall impressive first cap against The Netherlands. She can do a bit of everything in midfield and is Logarzo-like in her shooting and passing.

Brisbane Roar’s Hollie Palmer has indicated that she might play in a more defensive role this season, If this is successful she could join her former U19 teammates in the senior squad.

The midfield was formerly stacked with options but the retirement of Aivi Luik and the injury woes to Kellond-Knight and Logarzo have left this as an area of concern depth-wise.

Wheeler was magnificent though.

Defence

Above: Courtney Nevin – impressive. Photo: Football Australia.

The priority here is fitness. Either Clare Polkinghorne or Alanna Kennedy must be injury-free for the tournament. Unless somebody can rush through Kayla Morrison’s citizenship and convince her to wear the green and gold they are still the two best center backs Australia has.

Gustavsson and Mel Andreatta’s discovery of Courtney Nevin has been remarkable. She was somewhat of a surprise in the Olympic squad after a solid but unspectacular season at Western Sydney.

Her time in consecutive Matildas camps has helped develop her as a player. She is becoming that player that Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter have sometimes been forced to be, the fullback who can fill in at center back.

She was occasionally beaten by pace against the U.S.A but her positioning was great and her ball-winning and distribution were excellent.

Her genuine versatility will be a huge asset for the Asian Cup. Nevin’s emergence as an international footballer has been one of the best Matildas stories of 2021.

Jessika Nash was at fault for the first goal of the series against the U.S.A but recomposed herself to produce a confident and competent performance.

Her time is coming, but unless there is an emergency, It is not just yet.

Angela Beard is another who looked very good against Ireland and also famously “did a slide tackle on Marta.”

Like Nevin, she has shown she is ready for international football.

Guatavsson has looked at different personnel and systems to compensate for the lack of defensive depth. Nevin is a terrific discovery but somebody else needs to be found in case Kennedy or Polkinghorne are unable to play.

A with the midfield, the ALW might hold the key. Another consistent season from Matilda McNamara of Adelaide United might see her in the mix.

Goalkeepers

Above: Teagan Micah – number one at the Olympics, what about the Asia Cup? Photo: Football Australia.

As with the strikers, The goalkeeping stocks are excellent. Lydia Williams’ performance against the U.S.A was her best in a Matildas shirt in memory. Teagan Micah is a league champion in Sweden and Mackenzie Arnold’s last Matildas appearance may have ended in calamity but she has been excellent for West Ham United.

There are probably no bad options here, but Micah still has a lot of credits in the bank from her Olympic heroics.

This is another of those positive headaches for Gustavsson.

Matildas: Learning From Pressure And Finding The Right Balance

In today’s pre-game press conference ahead of Australia’s second friendly in four days with the USA, Ben Gilby heard Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson address his team’s defensive issues and outlined what he is aiming for between now and the end of the Asia Cup (29/11/21).

Above: Tony Gustavsson speaks to the media today ahead of the Matildas’ game with the USA in Newcastle tomorrow. Photo: Football Australia.

Tony Gustavsson opened the conference by outlining the review session to Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the USA in Sydney.

“We probably had one of our better review workshops so far yesterday, with players working in groups. There was a lot of dialogue and we have built all of that into our game plan. In training, we looked at trying to get those back into contention – those who missed the game on Saturday.

“There are still question marks over who will be available and one of those players is Polks (Clare Polkinghorne). As always, it’s a balance between experience and building depth in the backline.

“Some will say we were naive to look at players in defence in the last game. I would say brave. The young players responded well to going behind so early. We also have to credit the experienced players. It is not easy to step onto the field with a completely new centre-back pairing, play the US and I said we were going to treat it like a World Cup Final too.

Above: Tony Gustavsson clear that Jess Nash is in a good place after Saturday’s game. Photo: Football Australia.

“Jess Nash bounced back so quickly after the first goal. In fact, we conceded two when she went off. She was not subbed because of what happened, it was a planned move and I wanted to look at different options. She grew into the game. I would never give game time to her if I didn’t think she wasn’t ready for it mentally. This is the start for her. She showed tremendous promise. We are taking care of the young players but also explaining what it takes to win things.

“We need to learn about the stress and pressure of these situations and playing on home soil ahead of the World Cup when the spotlight is on us from the world.”

Gustavsson was pressed further on the defensive set-up of the Matildas and the number of goals that have been conceded since April.

“We have been looking at our defending for a long time now. We need to fix it. It is probably unfair to hold the players accountable for the ten goals they conceded in April due to the constraints we had on selection then. If someone needs to be criticized then maybe it is me in terms of handling it wrong.

“I believe in the preparation process. I am all about tournament football. After the Olympics when things were better, we had a look at what we wanted to do between then and the Asia Cup.

Above: Tony Gustavsson was pressed on his team’s defensive set-up. Photo: Football Australia.

“I’m trying to balance experience with boosting the roster. I made the choice to go with young inexperienced players on Saturday to give them a chance. In terms of how quickly can I fix the defence, the game tomorrow will be one isolated game. When it comes to the Asia Cup it will be all about tournament play and winning it through defending well enough. I am aiming to say I fixed it and I won something.

“We are trying to look at different defensive strategies. Our issues are not about just our backline. Can our nine cut the field in half? We are looking at how to get the most out of this team to get the best out of the players. It would be an easy fix to sit compact and close the space, but that is not who we are. I am an attacking coach.

“I am wanting us to play scoreboard blind – that is not being influenced by what the score is. That does not mean that we are not trying to win. We are doing everything we can to go out and win tomorrow’s game. If I wanted to build false confidence, I would schedule less challenging games and people would be saying how good things look but that would be naive as when it comes to tournaments and playing the best teams, you are not really ready.

“When I came into the job, we looked at statistics about how many games the Matildas played against higher ranked teams and what the results were for the last decade. It was apparent that we have to play these games more often because the majority of those games had only been played in tournament mode and, to be honest, the results hadn’t been too positive.

“Now we are playing them on a more consistent basis, it means we are losing more, but we need to get exposed, we need to develop this ahead of the World Cup. That is the way to build confidence – we have done it over and over and so know what to face.”

Above: Being on it from the start – the biggest learning point that the Matildas head coach hopes his players took from Saturday’s game. Photo: Football Australia.

Australia’s head coach also addressed the early concession in Saturday’s game by saying: “You have to be on it from the very start, especially against the best teams in the world. You have to be checked in and on. That is the biggest learning for us from that game. The US always want to open fast and go for the first goal. We need to learn from that and be on our A-game from the start.

“We lacked getting numbers into the box as well. We need to create even more. If we can get back to the passing game we had against Brazil, then we can do better.”

He was questioned about the outstanding performance of US goalkeeper Casey Murphy. “She was player of the match, right? She kept the US in the game. We should have been 2-1 up at half-time if it wasn’t for two brilliant saves for her. She was great in the air. Whilst our crossing wasn’t as great as normal, she came for everything and did well.

“The US play a direct running game and get in behind. That hurt us twice and also for the penalty. We need to deal with that direct way far better. Once they are in, they are really good. We need to do everything we can to block shots. We need to be mindful of their transition game.

Gustavsson was also questioned again about the goalkeeping position, whether he knows yet who will be the first choice for the Asia Cup. “At this point, no, I don’t. I wanted to use the September, October, and November windows to see all of them in action and then be a bit of review. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see two goalkeepers used in the Asia Cup.”

Above: The Matildas training today at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium. Photo: Football Australia

Wales: We’re Well Prepared & Ready To Impose Our Strengths

Impetus was represented at Wales’ media conference prior to departure to France for Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier by Jean-Pierre Thiesset. He and Ben Gilby summarise the views of head coach Gemma Grainger and Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle ahead of their trip over the Channel.

Above: Wales head coach Gemma Grainger pictured in her media conference before the game against France. Photo: FA of Wales.

Wales go into their game against France in Guingamp tomorrow on the back of a 5-0 win over Greece, something which pleased head coach Gemma Grainger, along with no injuries or suspension being picked up in the game.

“Friday was a great opportunity for us to keep building on what we needed to. Conditions were tough, but we adapted well and the girls were brilliant in terms of their approach to the game, how they delivered the game and how they got stronger throughout the game. They are the things that made me happiest from the game and it sets us up well for Tuesday.”

Grainger was questioned about her approach to the game in France, with the home side being red hot favourites to take the three points.

“Look, the way we are viewing it is that we are the underdogs, there are no expectations on us outside of the camp. It’s a French game in France and the expectations may be pretty low. But our expectations are very high in terms of the performance that we want to put on. It’s a real opportunity for us to see where we are as a team and to go out there and continue the form that we have had. Why would we change that going to France? Its a real positive. For me personally, we will know a lot about ourselves as a result of the game.”

The Welsh head coach also sees the game as another step in her bid to give her team the toughest possible opposition as often as possible, after they took Canada who would go on to win Olympic Gold just under four months after their friendly with the Welsh.

Above: Gemma Grainger: focussed on her team delivering their game plan on Tuesday. Photo: FA of Wales.

“A combination of games against top opposition and the World Cup campaign is something we need to bring together. For me as a coach, these are the types of games that I want to coach in. These are the games that you really get to see the progress that you are making. We know why this game is going to be different, they are a highly ranked opposition and one of the best teams in the world. We have a lot of respect for them, but it’s a chance for us to go there and see where we are.”

With the Welsh side under Grainger noted for their attacking philosophy, the coach was asked if she would keep that mentality against the French who are renowned for multiple attacking threats.

“We’re really well prepared, we know what they do and what they are strong at. We’ve also got a few ideas about how we can bring our strengths to the game. We have to leave that pitch on Tuesday night knowing that we’ve delivered the game plan and delivering the game plan for us comes in terms of what we do both in and out of possession. We’ll have some targets set and we’ll make sure during the game that we are delivering on that. That will be the key measure of success after the game.”

With Grainger now just over eight months into her role as head coach with Wales, she spoke about how she thinks her side has progressed in that period.

“It’s a balance. We’ve played a lot of friendly games against higher-ranked opposition and we learned what we needed to learn from those games. More recently, we’ve been playing against lower-ranked opposition in the World Cup qualifying campaign and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves from them. We’ll only know where we are at after the game on Tuesday.

“We are playing France, but for us, this is game six of ten (in the qualifying campaign). It’s about how we execute. We’ll use the underdog mentality to go out there and be brave. At the end of the game we will know the answer to the question about where we are as a team.”

So far in the qualifying campaign, France are averaging seven goals a game and Grainger was asked what she plans on doing to ensure Wales don’t go the same way on Tuesday.

Above: Gemma Grainger knows that whilst France are a team in transition, they still pose her side a major threat on Tuesday. Photo: FA of Wales.

“The first thing is I want to bring their average down! The foundations in this team are all about how defensively sound we are. We’ve built on that strength and the players have absolute clarity on what they need to deliver. We work hard together and that is something we can control. We have to defend well in all areas, but we will make sure we are fully prepared to deliver a game plan.

“France are a brilliant team and they are clearly on a mission. Yet, we will be the highest-ranked team that they have played so far. They will want to compete and play well. We have worked at bringing out the best in the players we have. They have incredible resilience and work ethic and we have created an environment that brings that out further. We are competitive and we want to qualify for major tournaments. Whatever game we are in, those characteristics need to come out and do so.”

So far in the group, Slovenia gave France their sternest test, going down to just a 3-2 defeat. Grainger was asked what she took out of their performance in a bid to emulate or go further on the Slovenes’ result against the French.

“We’ve watched that game and having played Slovenia ourselves (a 1-1 draw away from home), we can also put their performance into context. There is a big difference between playing home and away and France played them in Slovenia. Having been there ourselves in October, we know how hard it is to go there. You also don’t know what was going on with France at that time as well.”

France go into the game without Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, and Eugenie Le Sommer, who have been key components of their national side for many years, but Grainger does not think this makes Wales’ task any easier.

“Obviously I’d rather play France without those players, but I’ve coached against France before and seen their U17 players coming through and then at U19s. Although they are in a transition, they are in a very strong transition with strength in depth. The players coming in have very similar qualities whether they’ve learned them from around the national or club scene.”

Above: It was a happy and positive Sophie Ingle that spoke to the media prior to Wales’ game with France. Photo: FA of Wales.

Sophie Ingle also spoke to the media at the same event and began by highlighting her thoughts on the win over Greece on Friday, a game in which she scored her country’s opening goal after just seven minutes.

“It was positive, keeping a clean sheet was good. I still think that we could have pressed a bit better, obviously, we always want the perfect game, but we got in and around Greece. When we lost the ball, we reacted well. There were three or four of us around them. They still managed to get out a few times, but luckily they didn’t really cause us too many problems. An early goal against a team like Greece makes it a little bit easier, and to score two or three more in the first half also helps.”

Ingle was asked about her new role in the side which sees her linking up with Angharad James and Jess Fishlock in the midfield.

“It just comes natural to us. We were actually all laughing about it the other day as we don’t do much talking between us on the pitch because we don’t have to as we know where each other are just from checking over our shoulders. I know that if Jess wants to come low, I’ll get out of the space and that doesn’t always come natural with players. There usually is a lot of communication, but it just seems to flow nicely for the three of us.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s match in Guingamp against France, the Chelsea midfielder said: “It’s going to be a very different match. They will have a very big crowd as well. We know what sort of team they are and the strengths they have. So it’s all about us and trying to get at their weaknesses. We have to play with a bit of freedom, we have nothing to lose. We’re unbeaten too in qualifying at this stage too, so we’re happy about where we are as a team. It is about showing who we are and going away from home to play France is perfect for that.”

Wales can point to holding England to a draw in Southampton and very positive performances away to Norway when it comes to facing top European opposition, so is everyone right to be writing off Welsh chances in France so quickly?

Above: Sophie Ingle believes that her side have the character to trouble France. Photo: FA of Wales.

“We want to build on those games and results we’ve had when we’ve played top opposition,” said Ingle, “It’s all about us believing in what we are doing right now as a team and show who Wales are. We don’t want to turn up to France on Tuesday and not give a good account of ourselves as the Welsh national team and that is what we have been speaking about since the Greece game finished the other night.”

With Wales now about to go past the halfway mark in this qualification campaign, Ingle assessed how the team has performed so far.

“The last three camps (September, October and November) have been so close together that it feels like we’re always on Welsh camp which is great! We’re unbeaten and so are in a good place right now. Going away to Slovenia and getting a draw that we deserved was great. We have to build on that now. We need to go into the back-to-back games with France (the return game in Wales is in April) and be who we are, get on the ball and be positive. Having said that, we know we need to defend really well to get any sort of result against them.

“When we have the ball, we need to be creative against them. We know we won’t have as much of the ball as we’ve had in other games, but when we do have it, we have to be brave with it and get it forward. Our number nine might need to hold it up until others of us can get up in support, because realistically we may be in a mid-block and waiting for those turnovers.”

Ingle also identified a ruthless streak that has come into the Welsh side over the course of recent months.

“In training, we have spoken about that and we have to be ruthless against all opponents. We don’t just want to score one goal or two goals, we want to get as many as we can. In the past we were happy with a 1-0, everyone is, it’s a win, but now, if we can score more goals and create more chances, it will only help us as a team.

Above: Sophie Ingle – she strongly believes that Wales have the players to hurt France in transitional moments. Photo: FA of Wales.

“There has to be a level of respect about who we are playing, but at the end of the day, we want to do everything we can to win and, if sometimes that means ignoring another player on the floor, then so be it.”

In terms of her own thoughts on the French team, Ingle was nothing but impressed: “They are relentless. They are scoring goals for fun. They don’t hold off with who they are playing. They are bringing youth in and doing very well. There is a long way to go in the group, but we are realistic. France will probably come out on top of the group, but that is not to say I don’t think we can get a result against them. I just want us to be brave on the ball and solid at the back.

Impetus’ Jean-Pierre Thiesset then asked Ingle two questions, firstly about how Wales have prepared for the game with France. “We don’t prepare any differently compared to how we would if we were playing a team ranked lower than ourselves. We respect every opposition. Obviously, there will be little tweaks in our tactics because of who we are playing and we will have to be a bit more defensive than how we have in previous games, but we don’t change the way we are preparing just because we are playing a top opposition.”

Jean-Pierre then asked the midfielder what she believes Wales need to do to win in France. “We have to be solid in defence and midfield and try to limit the opportunities that France have, They have really fast, athletic players who can whip balls into the box but also go one v one in our wide areas. When we have the ball, I think that we can hurt them on the transition as they leave a lot of space in different parts of the pitch. The Slovenia game showed that where Slovenia scored on a transition and ran the length of the pitch to score. We have enough quality in our side to do that.”

NI: Fully Focused On Another Three Points

Ahead of tonight’s game with North Macedonia, Northern Ireland head coach Kenny Shiels outlined what he is looking for from his side. Copy kindly provided by the Irish FA (29/11/21).

Above: Rachel Furness, who levelled Northern Ireland’s all-time international goalscoring record with a hat-trick in Skopje last week. Photo: Presseye/William Cherry.

Kenny Shiels insists on taking one game at a time, and he will doing that again tonight when the Northern Ireland senior women’s team face North Macedonia at Seaview.

Northern Ireland registered their biggest ever victory home or away when they defeated the Macedonians 11-0 in Skopje on Thursday.

But Shiels says his players must forget about that match and focus on tonight’s game instead in a front of a full house at the home of Crusaders (7 pm start).

“Naturally, I was delighted with our performance in the first game of this double header with North Macedonia. The girls played some excellent football in Skopje on Thursday as they registered a record-breaking win.

“But we must segregate the two games because it’s going to be incredibly difficult to put in another performance like that, and to match such determination, quality, and endeavour tonight.”

However, he further points out that his players are well prepared for the second encounter with North Macedonia. 

He also says: “It’s going to be tough for our players because we have never been in this position before where we have come off the back of such a huge victory and now we are having to consolidate that. It will be hard but we will endeavour to do that.

“My players show tremendous commitment and desire every time they pull on that green jersey and I am certain they will be up for it again in Belfast.”

Above: Kenny Shield, Northern Ireland boss. Photo via: FAI

And he adds: “We have had an incredible year in 2021, qualifying for the UEFA Women’s Euros and starting our World Cup qualification campaign strongly, and it would be great to end the year with another victory under our belts.”

The Northern Ireland Women boss may not be saying it, but he will want his side to score goals tonight.

The emphatic victory in Skopje, coupled with table toppers England’s 1-0 home win against Austria on Saturday, means Northern Ireland currently have a goal difference of 15 and the Austrians have a goal difference of 17 in European Qualifying Group D. Both countries currently have 10 points from five games.

Going forward goals in the bank could prove crucial, especially given that Austria are away to Luxembourg tomorrow and they will be expected to rack up goals in that match.

Shiels and his players believe North Macedonia’s players will be “wounded” after such a heavy defeat on home soil and will be keen to put up a much better performance at Seaview.

The visitors continue to be without some key players due to injury, however, they may shuffle their pack and bring in younger players in the squad who will want to prove they can do better than their more experienced teammates.

One Northern Ireland player who is very much looking forward to the game is attacking midfielder Rachel Furness, who equalled David Healy’s goalscoring record – 36 strikes – for Northern Ireland while bagging a hat-trick in Skopje.

Healy has already been in touch with Furness to say well done on notching so many goals at international level and equalling his tally. Shiels will be hoping Healy will be sending her a text after tonight’s match congratulating her on breaking the record.

Bacha’s Breathtaking Bow For France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset watches a sensational debut for 21-year-old Lyon-born Selma Bacha.

On her debut for the senior French squad, Olympique Lyonnais’ 21-year-old defender earned the player of the match award after a starring performance in France’s 6-0 win over Kazakhstan in Vannes, Brittany on Friday.

Statistics recorded by myself during the game revealed that Bacha played almost 100 balls and made 71 passes with 93% successful, 10 crosses, 13 successful tackles, only one ball lost. In addition, the Lyon-born star had two shots on goal with one on target.

Bacha supplied the cross after five minutes for Viviane Asseyi and was at the originator of the move that lead to France’s fourth goal from Eve Perisset where (one-two with Delphine Cascarino ended with a pass from Bacha to Cascarino who delivered a decisive back pass to Perisset.

A Look Back At Indigenous Football Week

Impetus has been so proud to promote our charity partners John Moriarty Football‘s Indigenous Football Week. We look back over a week of powerful video messages, feature articles and a live broadcast (28/11/21).

Artwork: John Moriarty Football.

Five feature articles, fourteen videos and a programme broadcast on SBS Sport and Facebook Live – it’s been a powerful week of coverage of our charity partners JMF’s Indigenous Football Week theme of Gender Equality in Football.

VIDEOS:

Across our @ImpetusFootball Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds this week, we’ve put out a total of fourteen videos of support for Gender Equality in Football. Contributors have included young players, senior players and journalists. There’s also been a few skills challenges given to the JMF children. Missed any of the videos? They are all below!

FEATURE ARTICLES:

Monday saw Wiradjuri Woman and Dubbo-based JMF coach Tiffany Stanley share her hugely inspirational story about how she became one of the few female Indigenous Australians to hold a coaching licence and the incredible work she does on a daily basis: Tiffany Stanley: A Role Model Empowering Indigenous Children For JMF

On Tuesday, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta women, Jada Whyman, the Sydney FC and Matildas goalkeeper was profiled by Ben Gilby, highlighting her incredible story of daily long journeys to train and play before becoming one of the nation’s top shot-stoppers: Jada Whyman: An Inspirational Player With A Big Future

Lydia Williams, one of the greatest Indigenous players to represent her country was profiled by Kieran Yap on Wednesday: Lydia Williams: Influential Matilda & Indigenous Role Model

Ros Moriarty, JMF co-founder, co-chair, co-MD and founding Women’s Football Council Chair of Football Australia spoke to Kieran Yap about the work and ethos of John Moriarty Football: “Football Is A Powerful Vehicle For Social Good And Transformation”

The week of special features concluded on Friday with Impetus editor Ben Gilby hosting a special programme broadcast on SBS Sport and Facebook Live which included Ros Moriarty, Tiffany Stanley and Impetus sponsored Brighouse Town midfielder Leah Embley as well as the club’s head coach Rob Mitchell: Impetus Involved With Indigenous Football Week Broadcast

SPECIAL BROADCAST:

Friday’s broadcast can be watched on-demand here: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Gender Equality in Football

Artwork supplied by: John Moriarty Football.

Ashford Town (Middx): Biggest Ever Game!

Later today, Impetus partner club Ashford Town (Middx) play the biggest game in their history when they host FA Women’s National League Southern Premier side Oxford United in the Women’s FA Cup 2nd Round. First Team Assistant Coach Matthew Aumeeruddy spoke to Impetus’ editor Ben Gilby (28/11/21)

Above: Ashford Town (Middx) assistant coach Matthew Aumeeruddy. Photo supplied by: Matthew Aumeeruddy.

It’s been an incredible start to the season for Ashford Town which has seen them in imperious form to top the tier five London & SE Regional Premier. From Matt’s perspective, the reason for their outstanding form is down to “The hard work that the players and staff have put in. We all have the same goals this season and are determined to achieve them.”

Yet, despite the fact results are going so well, the first team assistant coach is more than aware of the challenges that come with good form.

“The hardest thing is to keep improving when the results have been as good as they can be. It is a lot easier to improve when results and performances are not going well as improvement is easily measured on match day. However, there are subtle things in our performances that we know can elevate our game.”

After coming through the qualifying rounds, Ashford Town (Middx) were drawn away to lower league side Sutton United in the First Round. The U’s are a team that Matt knew well from going up the leagues together in the past.   

“It was always a difficult challenge when you play teams from a division below because there is a nothing to lose mentality and we know they have some strong players who could be very effective for them. But the majority of the focus was on us and how we were going to have an impact on the game.

Above: Ashford Town (Middx) together on and off the pitch. Photo: Ben Gilby

Of course, the result (6-0) was pleasing but I wouldn’t say it was our best performance of the season in terms of the standards we set. But we were largely in control as well as some brilliant passages of play. We had to be patient in order to get the first goal, but once we did, we never looked back!”

The second-round draw gave Ashford the biggest tie of the round and the biggest game in their history when they were pulled out of the hat to face Oxford United, a team two divisions higher than them.

“I think I was at home at the time the draw was made,” Matt explains, “but there was more intrigue than an anxious wait.  Of course, we are relishing the challenge and the players are all excited ahead of this fixture.

“Oxford United are a very good tier three team that have ambitions on promotion to the Championship. They will be well organised in all phases of the game and have players that are very capable in all areas of the pitch.

“We’re hoping for a bumper crowd and have been promoting the game through our usual social media channels.  Our admission prices have remained the same (£5 Adults, £3 Concessions) in order to make it an affordable experience.

“The FA Cup is always a special competition to be involved in due to the prestige that holds.  We are proud of the run we have been on in this competition and will certainly be giving our all on Sunday.”

A-League Women Round-Up

With the return of one big name to her hometown club and another club legend announcing a return, it’s been a big week as the A-League Women kick-off draws ever closer. Ben Gilby brings you all the news from these two announcements plus all that he heard from a raft of special media events (28/11/21).

Artwork: Perth Glory

PERTH GLORY: Home Town Hero De Vanna Returns:

Perth Glory confirmed on Thursday that Lisa De Vanna has signed with the club for the A-League Women 2021/22 Season.

One of the greatest forwards that Australia has ever produced, the Perth local is the second most-capped Matildas player of all time having made 150 international appearances, during which she scored 47 goals.

At club level, meanwhile, she has had two previous spells with Glory, in 2008-09 and 2012-13 and represented a host of leading clubs around the world including Sky Blue FC, Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit in the USA, Fiorentina in Italy and AIK and Linkoping in Sweden.

Also on her glittering resume are W-League Championship titles with Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, Sydney FC, and Brisbane Roar.

De Vanna is now looking forward to writing a new chapter in her remarkable career with a club that has always remained close to her heart.

“I only very recently decided to get back on board,” she said.

“Alex Epakis [Head Coach] has created a safe, supportive environment and Tony Sage [Club Owner and Chairman] showed me great respect by going out of his way to meet me in person, which I really appreciated and am grateful for.

“Alex has put no pressure or expectation on me; just for me to fall in love with the game again.

“I started my career here and now I want to give back to the family, friends and fans who have supported me all the way along my football journey.

“I’m focused on being a good influence on the young players and helping bring the best out of them; that was a real game-changer for me.

Above: Lisa De Vanna in action for home town club Perth Glory during a previous spell. Photo: Wikimedia.

“A winning mentality never dies and that’s why I’m committed to doing everything I can to bring a first-ever Championship to my hometown club.”

Epakis, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of seeing De Vanna donning the famous purple once again this season.

“Lisa is a proud West Australian and I know she is valuing the opportunity to represent her hometown club as part of what is shaping up to be a very dynamic and exciting squad to work with,” he said.

“She has a proven track record at every level of the game, is extremely motivated to succeed on a team level, and will provide even further x-factor to our attack.

“Lisa has been involved with the team for over a month now, has fitted in extremely well into our environment and culture, and is focused on working hard to ensure the team has a competitive campaign.

“I look forward to coaching her this season and am eager to see her combine with the other fantastic players we currently have in the team.”

Glory CEO Tony Pignata is similarly delighted to see a player of De Vanna’s quality and stature bolstering what is already a squad packed with potential.

“Lisa’s record speaks for itself,” he said, “and she remains one of the most dangerous forwards Australian and indeed, world football has ever seen.

“Her experience and winning mentality will make her an invaluable member of the group and I’m sure our Members and fans are incredibly excited to see her back in a Glory shirt this year.”

De Vanna’s other honours include a W-League Premiership with Melbourne City in 2015-16, the Julie Dolan Medal in 2002-03, twice being named in the FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star team, and helping Australia claim the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010.

CANBERRA UNITED: Legend Sykes Is Back!

Artwork: Canberra United.

Canberra United announced on Tuesday the signing of the club’s record appearance holder, Ashleigh Sykes for the 2021/22 A-League Women’s season.

The Dubbo-born striker has made 113 appearances for Canberra United, scoring 41 goals over 11 seasons, which included three Premierships and two Championships.

Speaking to the assembled media in the national capital, Sykes said she is excited by the challenge of her comeback to the A-League Women’s and looks forward to pulling the United jersey on once more. “I found my love for football again playing with my club team Canberra Olympic this past winter season.

“The players and coaches made it fun, and reminded me how much joy can be found on a football field. I’m hoping to get similar enjoyment from playing for Canberra United again, it’s always been my experience here and the team have made me feel welcome.

“I missed the feeling of competing every day with your teammates and for spots on the team. I love the challenge that this comeback presents. Getting match fit and back up to the standards that the A-League Women’s demand is my driving force at the moment.

“It’s always a privilege to wear the Canberra United jersey and play for this club. I’m super excited by the opportunity from Vicki and the club to have me play for them. I hope to make an impact for the team and add some more firepower to our already talented attacking stocks.”

With this being the second time that the 29-year-old has come out of retirement, Sykes admitted: “Coaching definitely sucks compared to playing! I thought that I’d try and rival John Farnham in terms of comebacks. This is number two so we’ll see how many more there are!

Above: Ashleigh Sykes at the media event to mark her return to Canberra United on Tuesday. Photo: Canberra United.

“I played with Canberra Olympic this year in the NPL. The girls there were awesome to play with and the coaches awesome to play for. It made me find my love for the game once more. I thought that there would not be many more years that I could give it a go, so I did.

“Vicki (Linton, Canberra United head coach) has been a quiet voice in the background for a while, but I approached her in the end asked if she had any spaces in the team and whether she had room for an old, unfit player! I had a week-long trial period and it went OK. It’s been fatiguing, but awesome. Canberra United have a great mentality which has not changed since I was last here (in 2018).

In terms of the role she sees herself as having this season, Sykes said: “It will depend on fitness, but for now I’m trying to be a good role model in training and catching up. Next week (the big kick-off) is coming fast, so we’ll see what Vicki has in store for me, whether that’s impact off the bench or starting.”

With old sparring partner Michelle Heyman at the club once more, Sykes commented that it was just like old times. “The old combination and understanding is still there and it feels great in training. That’s what ten years of playing together gets you. When combination play comes off between us like it did in training recently, you just smile. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s hard to describe when you stop playing what you miss most, but that is one of them. When it’s flowing it’s easy and it feels great. We’re on the same page straight away. It’s important to savour those moments.”

Canberra United Head Coach Vicki Linton commented how pleased she was to have signed Ash for a number of reasons.

“Ash is a quality player with so much experience and has been a massive part of this club from day one,” Vicki said.

“I had the chance to work with her in my time with the Matildas and to be able to reunite with her here at club level is such a nice opportunity. Already she has shown her ability and intelligence as a player and she will no doubt have a positive impact for this team with her performances in games but also with her mentality and the culture she can bring in training. I am really glad she has this chance to come back and compete at a high level again and enjoy her football.”

NEWCASTLE JETS: Tara Andrews & Kirsty Fenton Media Event Plus Ash Brodigan Returns

Above: Newcastle Jets’ Tara Andrews pictured at the media event this week. Photo: Newcastle Jets

With the 2021/22 A-League Women season kicking off in less than a week, Jets star Tara Andrews spoke of how anticipation is building.

“It’s getting really exciting now. We’re all raring to go and ready to play soccer. It’s ben great to be in the training environment, but we can’t wait for that first game now.”

With a few new faces added to the squad, including Norway international forward Marie Markussen, Andrews emphasised what a fillip this was for the team. “We’ve been waiting a few years now for an international player to come in and bolster our squad. It’s really exciting that she’s joined.

“It’s also great to have some support up front and someone to feed me the ball to score more goals. I want to score more goals and be more consistent. Last season I scored a lot of goals in the early weeks and then nothing for a while.”

Andrews also highlighted the fact that she feels that the Jets preparations for the new campaign are better than ever. “It feels a lot more professional this year. We’ve done a lot of strength and conditioning. Ash (Wilson, head coach) has got things organised well.

“In terms of trial games, we played the boys a few weeks ago and we were further ahead from where we were last year against them. Last weekend we played Western Sydney Wanderers, we didn’t win the game, but we were pretty strong against them.

Above: Kirsty Fenton, who also spoke to the media this week, in action during training. Photo: Newcastle Jets.

Kirsty Fenton has progressed through the ranks at Newcastle Jets and is now part of the senior squad preparing for the new A-League Women campaign. She spoke to the media on Wednesday of this week.

“Being in the Jets Academy environment since the under-11s, it’s always been a goal of mine to play for my hometown team and to see all that hard work pay off, not just for me but for my parents and all those coaches who have helped me is special.

“Just being in the same changing shed as the likes of Tara Andrews, Gema Simon, Hannah Brewer, Cass Davies – all of them are girls that I’ve just looked up to this whole time I was growing up as a footballer and to now say that I’m rocking up with them and getting ready for games is incredible.

“They are not as scary as I thought they would be! They are welcoming and really helpful. I just want to put on the jersey and walk on the pitch with the team, working to get game time.”

Fenton emphasised some of the big changes she has had to adapt to since moving up to the senior squad this pre-season.

“It’s the intensity, and the expectations on you – not only on the field, but off the field. Playing in the trial games, getting a feel of things has been really helpful. It is such an amazing thing to be where I am and I want to learn and gain experience from the girls. Down the line there are bigger things that I am aiming for such as Matildas. I’m also still doing my HSC and have one exam still to go! Coming in here straight from the classroom and a three hour exam and letting lose with the girls has been great.”

Artwork: Newcastle Jets.

On Wednesday, Newcastle Jets announced the signing of local forward Ash Brodigan for the upcoming A-League Women’s Season.

Now 22 years of age, Brodigan first debuted with the Club back when she was 16, and now returns to the side having last played in 2018.

Since then, the creative forward has shone in the local Women’s NPL, and Head Coach Ash Wilson was ecstatic to bring her back into the squad.

“Ash has worked hard in the pre-season,” Wilson said.

“What has impressed me is the determination and mentality she has shown. To have gone away from the top-level, set new goals, and come back in as a more mature and motivated player – it is a credit to her.

“Ash brings versatility and creativity to our attack and physically offers us key characteristics that will help us execute our brand of football.”

Brodigan said she was excited return to the A-League Women’s level.

“When I was given the opportunity by the Club, I didn’t have to think twice,” Brodigan said. “It’s exactly where I want to be.”

“I’m excited to be back playing with such an amazing team.”

Matildas v USWNT: Post Match Interviews

Ben Gilby hears from Tameeka Yallop on the night of her hundredth cap, debutant Jessika Nash, Manchester City’s Hayley Raso, and Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord (28/11/21).

Above: Inside the huddle. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.

“I was gutted that we didn’t get the win”, admitted Tameeka Yallop, speaking after the final whistle.

“However, I was excited to be playing in this stadium and in front of all these fans (a record crowd of over 36,000). We’re leading into (a home World Cup) in 2023 and to have this sort of crowd is awesome.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s second game with the USA at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, Yallop highlighted the modifications that were necessary.

“We need to be more clinical in our finishing. Look, today we got stuck in and played really well. We had a lot of possession, but we need to be more clinical.”

Whilst Yallop was celebrating her centenary of caps, at the other end of the scale, Jessika Nash made her debut. The Sydney FC defender spoke about her experience.

“It’s hard to put into words. Having the backing that I did from the girls was all I needed and the backing from Tony (Gustavsson). It’s unreal and hasn’t sunk in.

Above: In the huddle with the Matildas against Australia yesterday. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.

“When I found out I would be starting, I was really nervous but I knew from training this week that the girls had 100% backing of me which made it easier. I also knew that Tony would not have put me in if he didn’t have confidence in me.”

Having got her debut out of the way, Nash highlighted the fact that now “I can just be calm going into Tuesday and have that calmness from the get-go. I think the first five minutes was a bit chaotic today, but hopefully, we’ll get a chance to settle in a bit earlier.”

Hayley Raso made her international return from injury from the bench and was clearly disappointed by the outcome of the match.

“It was a tough result and it’s hard to come away 3-0 down. For me on a personal note, it’s nice to be back, but it’s a disappointing result.”

The big positive that the midfielder took out of the game was the record crowd. “They are amazing. They always are, they are like a 12th man for us. We heard them cheering for the whole game.”

Caitlin Foord was clear about the desire within the squad to put things right result-wise in the second game between the two sides in Newcastle on Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing not to get the win in front of the home crowd here, but we’ve got a lot to learn from. We have another game to redeem ourselves in so we are not looking forward to that one.

“It was huge to have that many fans come out today to support us and we really appreciate that support and hopefully we can get the win for them next time.”

Above: The Australia side that started the game against the USA yesterday. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.