A-League Women Wrap

Impetus’ Ben Gilby rounds up the week’s media conferences in the A-League Women. This week he heard from five head coaches and players Emma Checker, Paige Satchell, and Chelsee Washington. There is also the latest on Perth Glory‘s immediate fixture schedule (17/12/21).

ADELAIDE UNITED: Stenta Calls For A Confident Performance

Above: Adrian Stenta pictured talking to the media at Marden Sports Complex today. Photo: Adelaide United

Head coach Adrian Stenta began his media briefing at Marden by reviewing last week’s last gasp win over Canberra United.

“The belief has always been in the squad. The resilience was great. There are still things that we need to work on, but the main thing we can do is put the effort in and get a result, especially after what happened in Round One (a 5-1 loss at Melbourne Victory).

“There are only 12 games to go, it seems strange to say that as we’ve only just started, so it was important to get points on the board last week and build some momentum.”

With Adelaide United having announced the return of Dylan Holmes in midweek, Stenta was absolutely delighted to have the defender back: “Her return will certainly bring about some selection headaches, but that’s a good thing. The best thing about Dylan is that she is just a wonderful person. She has leadership qualities and additional experience that she has had in the last 12 months. We’re rapt to have her back and to have her around the squad. She’ll bring quality to our side.

Turning his attention to United’s game this weekend with Melbourne City, the Reds’ head coach observed: “They are a quality side who are well-coached. We are expecting a tough test and they are looking to bounce back after a loss as we were last time out. It will be a challenging game and a chance to build some momentum for the season.”

When asked what his team need to do to win, Stenta said: “We just need to continue to play with confidence and not go into our shells. It is a unique situation as we are going back to AAMI Park – you don’t often go back to play at the same away stadium and not so close together either. We need to play on that pitch confidently after what happened in Round One there and give it everything we’ve got.”

BRISBANE ROAR: McPherson – The Pressure Is All On Victory

Above: Brisbane Roar head coach Garrath McPherson speaking to the media earlier today. Photo: Brisbane Roar.

Talking ahead of Brisbane Roar’s game with defending champions Melbourne Victory this weekend, head coach Garrath McPherson revealed: “We’re stinging after the last two results against Perth Glory after being in the games and creating so many chances and then losing at the end. The bitter pill has been how we finished those games. We’ve addressed the issues, we’ve worked hard and we have players returning to the team. With every game we play it is another game for us to grow together.”

McPherson outlined the impact that players gradually coming back into contention for selection is having on the Roar: “Last week was the first time this season that we’ve had all our contracted players on the grass and yesterday (Thursday) was the first time we’ve had all our contracted players able carry out un-restricted training. These players have been working so hard to get themselves back. They are super excited to be back in contention for match days and that’s a great problem for me to have in terms of selection.

“The mood in the camp is great, there’s lots of smiles and singing of Christmas carols! There’s always areas to improve in and we’re ready to get over those losses. We unpacked what happened, worked on it, and improved. The first couple of days of the week sees the pain still there from the loss, but then after analysis, everyone feels better and we’re ready to improve.”

With Melbourne Victory ahead for Brisbane this week, things are not getting easier, but the Roar head coach is positive: “We’re looking forward to it and there’s no reason for us not to think we can’t win. We believe that we can beat every single team in the competition and we are getting better every week. We have a plan, we’ve prepared well and we’re going out to take three points at home.”

“Lynn Williams is a dangerous player, but Victory have lots of dangerous players. There’s explosive players on the wings. Victory have recruited heavily, Chidiac has come in recently too, so really I’d say the pressure is all on them. The expectation is that they need to be doing exceptionally well.”

CANBERRA UNITED: Washington Sees Nothing But Positives So Far

Above: Chelsee Washington (left) put in a player of the match standard performance for Canberra United last weekend. Here she is pictured competing against Adelaide United’s Nanako Sasaki in that match. Photo: @CanberraUnited

With Canberra United’s game with Perth Glory off this weekend due to Western Australia border restrictions, the Greens’ recent signing from the USA, Chelsee Washington reviewed her team’s showing in their heartbreaking late loss to Adelaide United last week.

“It was actually really positive after the game as we could all see a lot of strides that we’d made from Round One to Round Two. Whilst it was not the result we wanted there is lots to build on.”

Washington revealed how tough the conditions were in Adelaide: “It was a pretty dry heat and the pitch was bobbly. Not ideal, but we have to get through it at the end of the day. During warm-up and getting ready for the game it was hot. It was good that we got a couple of water breaks and that the second half saw the weather cool down.”

With Canberra having a weekend off this week meaning they can’t make an instant bid to get their first win of the season, the American sees positives in the unscheduled break.

“I think it’s actually a blessing in disguise. It helps us to re-group and re-set as well as freshening up some bodies and then get ready for the next round.

“One of the surprising things is how the opponents speak to me on the field. They are, like ‘Oh, how are you finding Australia?’ and I’m thinking ‘You’re not supposed to be saying that to me, you’re not on my team!’ It has been very competitive so far. It is good as a player to give yourself these challenges.”

“I think the game time and the experience will really help me when I go back to play in the NWSL. The different tactics and roles in midfield I am playing. In the first game, I played deeper and for the second game, I was in an advanced role. That definitely adds layers to your game and increases versatility.

MELBOURNE CITY:

Vidosic Outlines Development of His Team & Vision For ALW Growth Priorities

Above: Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic outlined his vision for the future of the A-League Women’s competition. Photo: Melbourne City.

Rado Vidosic delivered a heartfelt plea for the development of the A-League Women in a fascinating press conference today.

“We need a longer league season. We need to extend it. Players need to train professionally for a whole year. You can add a cup competition for women but also for under-18s. We need both. We need more of those things but definitely professional football. We have so many players playing abroad who would love to be here if there was a longer competition.

“In England, not many English players play outside of England. In the USA, not many American players play outside of the USA. They have strong national teams. This is not the case here. Longer seasons, and being professional is needed. Women’s teams must have academies as well, just like the men so we can play Asian Women’s Champions League.

“James Johnson has said he wants the ALW to be one of the top five women’s leagues in the world. If he can do all the things I said, we can do it. We need professional competition. If we don’t do it by the end of the 2023 World Cup, it could be too late.”

City’s head coach also reflected on their loss to Melbourne Victory last weekend by saying: “One game will not decide our season and we analyzed the game and there were so many positives. A few negatives of course, but we were largely happy with what happened.

“So far this season, what we did against Canberra was very positive. Last week we couldn’t maintain it in that ten or fifteen-minute spell in the second half against Melbourne Victory, but we finished strongly with a number of chances towards the end. We are very careful with the way we are working, we are trying to improve habits and that takes time. A lot of our players haven’t played for a long time or trained in professional environments before. If we can develop everyone then our season will be successful.

“It will take time. We are in a better position than we have been in the past. We’ve had eight weeks of training with the whole team and not many injuries through training or games.

In terms of how Vidosic wants his team to develop, he outlined: “We want to control the game from an attacking point of view. We want to be aggressive, force a mistake, and win the ball. Two years ago, our opponents had the ball for no longer than nine seconds at a time as we forced them into making mistakes. I am driving this team to capitalize more when we win the ball and force the opponents to only have the ball for a minimal time.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s game against Adelaide United at AAMI Park, the City head coach said: “Well, we know (Dylan) Holmes has come back. We don’t know if she will play at all or if she is in quarantine. That will give them chance to be motivated. They will be on a good pitch with a good crowd. We don’t have any injuries or any concerns, so we are full steam ahead with no problems.”

Emma Checker: Adelaide Will Be Tough

Above: Emma Checker pictured at her media conference today. Photo: Melbourne City.

Emma Checker began by addressing City’s defeat in last weekend’s Melbourne derby. “Look, it was a disappointing result, one because we don’t like losing and two because there is always pride attached to a derby match. In saying that, despite the result, there were so many positives that we can take. It was a close game, and we had more possession. Whilst statistics don’t win games, it is something we can take into forthcoming matches. We know we are a good possession team so we need to take that forward.

“We know we had a fifteen-minute lapse in the game. We have to address that because that cost us the game. Leading into that lapse, we were in control. We have to play for the whole 90. The last five minutes showed that we had more left in the tank. It’s disappointing but moving forward we know we have to correct that.

“The mood is positive. The reason for that is that we know we played well. We know we could have done more, but we did give it a red hot crack. Melbourne Victory are the defending champions and so we know if that’s the bar, we’re OK. There is no reason why we can’t bounce back with another win tomorrow before we play them again the following week.”

Asked how she assesses the standard of the competition this year, Checker said: “I think there are more consistent teams this season, it is hard to predict how the league will turn out, but based on just our two games shows me that competition is tough.”

Focusing specifically on this weekend’s game, the Matilda said: “I know how tough Adelaide are because I’m a former Adelaide player. They go into every game believing they will win every game. We are expecting them to come out strong. We’re playing at AAMI Park – the surface is great. There is a tradeoff with the atmosphere as it is hard to feed off the crowd when it’s not full in a big stadium, but the positives outweigh that.

“Playing at the community grounds, the pitch sizes are different and it takes a few rounds to get used to. AAMI Park is a home ground and it does still give us an advantage

PERTH GLORY: Uncertainty Over Club’s Schedule To Be Settled Next Week

As expected, Perth Glory’s home game with Canberra United tomorrow has been postponed due to Western Australia coronavirus border restrictions.

With Perth playing away in Brisbane last weekend, the team would be subject to quarantine as would Canberra.

The club expects to receive confirmation from the APL next week about their revised playing schedule until the Western Australia state border opens fully at the beginning of February. It is thought that the club will return to action at the beginning of 2022 and be based on the east coast in a hub until February.

SYDNEY FC: Satchell Excited To See Familiar Faces

Above: Sydney FC’s Paige Satchell. Photo: NZ Football

Paige Satchell, Sydney’s 11 cap New Zealand international opened her media conference by talking about her thoughts on facing her country’s first pro women’s team this weekend.

“It’s really exciting. It’s great that finally there is a Wellington Phoenix team in the competition. It has been a long time coming. It moves the women’s game forward in New Zealand. I’m really looking forward to playing them. Every team in the competition are strong and competitive, so it will be a good match. We will have to be on our game.

“It will be wonderful to come up against familiar faces and see some Kiwis. I know some of them well. Lily Alfeld, of course, who was at Perth last season. She has been in the Ferns environment a few times so I know her well. There’s a few other girls too, who I played U20 World Cups with. They are a young team so it will be interesting to see how they do this season in a competitive league.”

In terms of Sydney’s own form, Satchell is delighted with their record of two wins from two. “It builds confidence. We’ve had a good pre-season as well as a good start in the league. We feel good going into the game. We can never be complacent and need to keep pushing ourselves in training to maintain the good results we’re getting so far.”

Both Sydney’s men’s and women’s teams are facing the Phoenix in a doubleheader at Kogarah, something which Satchell believes is a real positive: “The women’s league and men’s leagues coming closer is great. It’s a sign that women’s football is really closing the gap with men’s football. It’s great for us as it means we get more media and more crowd.”

WELLINGTON PHOENIX: Line-Up Changes & Urge To Be Disciplined

Above: Wellington Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.

Wellington Phoenix face a tough battle against unbeaten Sydney FC on Sunday but head coach Gemma Lewis says after a couple days of soul-searching “everyone is in a really positive headspace”.

“As much as we need to move forward, we also need to still remember what that defeat felt like and try and stay away from that as much as we can,” Lewis told media on Friday afternoon.

“We need to recognize that we don’t want to be in those situations which is why we need to stick a little bit more to the game plan and be a little bit more disciplined.”

Discipline and improving their possession game have been major focuses this week. “I want to get back to a little bit more defensive security within the game like we had against Western Sydney where we were a lot harder to break down. Whereas against Newcastle I felt like we gave them too much space, we got pulled apart too much and the gaps between lines got really stretched at times through the game.”

Lewis also wants her players to be brave in possession. “I know we got punished quite a bit for some of our in possession mistakes and some sloppiness in possession in the game against Newcastle so I just want to see them bounce back from that a little bit.

“I don’t want players to hide and not try and get on the ball. We know they’re going to make mistakes and yes we’re playing against great players so sometimes we’re going to be punished for those mistakes, but I don’t want them to stop playing because they’re young. They need to see those moments, make those decisions and get used to playing under that pressure.”

Sydney FC enters round three as one of only three unbeaten teams, alongside Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, but the Phoenix players know what to expect, having played them in pre-season.

“They know that Sydney is going to be really tough but I think having played them in a pre-season game is also helping because there’s an element of familiarity there. They know that even though they were a tough opposition then, we lost to them and they controlled quite a lot of the game, they also recognize that they’ve played those players before.”

Having fielded the same starting line-up in the first round two rounds, Gemma Lewis will be making a few tweaks to her line-up. “There will be a couple of changes this week, some because players are back fit again from injury, others because there’s a couple of niggly ones at the moment that won’t be ready for the game.”

Forward Kelli Brown is “back in the frame” after suffering an ankle injury two days out from their opening match. “She will be in the squad in some shape or form this game and we’re actually potentially even looking at if she can start. She was already ready last week, but we just wanted to make sure we had her back fully training this week.

“She’s been getting through all the training this week fully. She’s been in contact, has been in-game situations, is comfortable so we’re pretty confident to throw her straight back in now.”

Alyssa Whinham and Talitha Kramer are also pushing for a place in the starting eleven, after impressing off the bench, but forward Grace Jale may miss the match as a precaution after picking up a minor hamstring injury.

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS:

Cannuli Reviews Sydney Loss and Reveals Self Focus Ahead Of Jets

Above: Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Catherine Cannuli speaking to the media on Thursday. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers

The Western Sydney Wanderers head coach opened by reviewing Round Two’s Sydney derby: ”Last week’s loss (in the derby to Sydney FC) was a tough one to take. The girls worked really hard from the first minute to the last. We’ve spoken about it and we need to take control of the ball more, protect it more and capitalize on possession. That’s what we’ll be focusing on in the following weeks.”

When asked about the team’s focuses in training this week Cannuli outlined: “Look, we just focus on us. We built a squad in eight weeks and it takes time to get momentum and build focus and cohesion.”

Looking ahead to her team’s clash with Newcastle Jets earlier today, the Wanderers head coach said: “It’s going to be a really tough test. There’s not one easy-beat team. In this competition, anyone can beat anyone else. We’re going into it to get three points and there’s nothing else in the back of our minds.”

Wanderers Host Afghan National Cup:

Western Sydney Wanderers will play host to the Afghan National Cup 2021, a five-day annual round-robin tournament, played at the Wanderers Football Park in Blacktown. 

The Afghan National Cup 2021 comprises six women’s teams, 24 men’s teams, and eight youth teams coming from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia to participate in competitive and inclusive football games. 

Every Christmas, Afghan community members attend the annual football tournament – a festival that takes place in a different city each year. The competition was established in 2003 and later refreshed in 2014 as an opportunity to celebrate culture and promote solidarity through football. It aims to:

  • Raise awareness and increase participation of women from culturally and lingually diverse backgrounds in football
  • Promote inter-cultural connections and strengthen social fabric between various ethnic groups and broader Australian community
  • Engage and partner with local community and football organisations to support the event and create opportunities for player pathways, especially for female players 
  • Promote a sense of belonging, and a feeling of having a place to build a future
  • Identify and showcase emerging talents in men’s and women’s football 

The competition is coordinated by the Afghanistan Football Federation of Australia – a group of volunteers around Australia dedicated to promoting inclusion through their shared love of football.

After a strife-ridden year, The Afghan National Tournament will play a significant role in bringing the community together, including newly-arrived Afghan footballers, showcasing solidarity and celebrating our culture. 

Tournament organiser Hussain Ramazani said he was thankful that Sydney could host the tournament this year to bring his community together.

“This tournament will be a wonderful event to celebrate our football community in what has been a very tough year for the Afghani people,” said Mr Ramazani.

“We would like to thank Western Sydney Wanderers for their support and are very grateful for the community support which will give us a very positive end to our year as we celebrate through our passion for football.”

Western Sydney Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas said hosting and helping bring to life tournaments like this is critical to the Wanderers mission.

“Being able to work with our community to host tournaments and opportunities like the Afghan Cup 2021 is incredible,” he said.

“Wanderers Football Park is a world-class venue here in Blacktown and to be able to use the Wanderers Foundation to support and help share this space with our community is a very important part of the work we do.”

Football Australia Launches Our Game To Achieve Gender Parity

Football Australia today launched Our Game, an initiative aimed at harnessing the power of football to build an inclusive and diverse game that embraces, positively influences, celebrates, and elevates women and girls. 

The co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 presents a unique opportunity for Australian football to leverage the moment and strive to become the nation’s largest community sport to reach gender parity by 2027.

Launching the initiative, Football Australia CEO, James Johnson said: “For well over a decade now, women’s football has seen unprecedented growth and popularity in Australia. This year we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the first recorded public women’s football match and while the women’s game has progressed significantly in the past century, we also acknowledge that there is much more we can achieve.

“In 18 months we will co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand – the world’s biggest standalone women’s sporting event.  We are provided with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate our aspiration to become the centre of excellence for women’s football in Asia-Pacific, and in doing so become the first Australian sport to reach gender parity in participation.

“Our Game is our platform and Legacy ’23 is our game plan for Football Australia’s bold objective.  To do this we understand the importance of us as a sport tackling head-on the barriers of awareness, accessibility, and apprehension that hold back women and girls from fully participating in football.” 

Our Game will work at addressing perceptions and hesitations of women in football, enhancing visibility and awareness of the various avenues of involvement, celebrating accomplishments, and providing practical resources to facilitate participation. 

Following the initial launch, Football Australia and its Member Federations will deliver a program of club and individual resources, media activities, and community events to present opportunities for women and girls of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to be part of football.  It will also be the avenue to build excitement ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023.

More information can be found via the website:  ourgameaus.com.au and via @OurGameAus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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.

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