Sunday A-League Women Preview

Sunday sees two huge matches which will decide the destination of the Premier’s Plate. Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard the pre-match views of Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic whose team face Western Sydney Wanderers, along with Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta and defender Kayla Sharples ahead of their game with leaders Sydney FC (5/3/22).

Above: Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic at today’s pre-game media conference. Photo: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City go into their game at Western Sydney Wanderers knowing that if they can win and third-placed Adelaide United defeat Sydney, then his team will win the Premier’s plate.

Preparations for the game have been impacted by the match in Parramatta being pushed back to Sunday to aid with pitch drainage after heavy rain in the area. Vidosic believes that extra day will benefit his team.

“We’ve had an extra day to rest. We had a day off on Friday. That is good for us. Physically we are ready. They could have played our game and the Sydney one simultaneously as that was good when Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory’s ones were (on Friday when both sides were contesting the final spot in the top four), but I’m not privy to the decisions of the APL, Paramount and Channel 10. They make decisions for the good of the game.”

In terms of injuries and availability, City’s head coach had good news to report. “There are no major concerns going into the game. We will finalize our squad and starting 11 when we arrive. We want to give the girls as long as possible, it’s been a disrupted build-up and we need to ensure no one is exposed to risk, but we are needing to win.”

In terms of how his team perform tomorrow, Vidosic does not see any danger of complacency taking on a struggling team in Wanderers. For him, it will be all about mental attitude having played a game on Tuesday night.

“We have tried to refresh them as much as we could over these past few days. If we can play to our best, we expect to win the game. Our we play will depend on how mentally focussed we are. If we get that right, we will have a good performance and every chance to win the game.”

Above: Kayla Sharples speaking to the media this week at Marden. Photo: Adelaide United.

Adelaide United defender Kayla Sharples spoke of her excitement at the team’s achievement of making their first W-/A-League Women’s Finals berth. She also warned the other teams in the top four – including Saturday’s opponents Sydney FC – that Adelaide United want to do some serious damage in the Finals.

“Last week’s game was crucial, to get that win (over Melbourne Victory) and lock in Finals. It’s my first season, but I know how much it means to the team and the club. I just wanted to make an impact and I’m loving my time here. But, we’re not done yet!”

Reflecting on game with Victory last weekend, Sharples was pleased with how the team grew into the match. “We did have a slow start, but we knew they would press high, so we just had to ride that wave, which we did.

“Scoring three goals against them was massive. We also wanted redemption after losing a lot of goals against them. We’re really connecting and being relentless right now. There are no limits to what we can do. After the final whistle, we were so excited, but there was an element of relief. For us, this year to lock in the Finals with a game ahead was important.

“We’re very hungry. We’re not content with where we are. I don’t think we’ve hit our peak yet. When we play our best, there are no limits. We can definitely make it to the last game and win a championship for the first time.”

Whilst Adelaide United’s goal-scoring prowess has taken the headlines this season, Sharples was keen to shine a light on their backline, which she has been a crucial part of.

“I’ve loved working with the girls at the back with me – Matilda (McNamara), Izzy (Hodgson). We’re a relentless unit. We put our bodies on the line and will do everything we can to prevent the ball going into the net. We have a crucial relationship and it’s part of our success.”

The American believes that the time is right to be facing league leaders Sydney FC. “I’m happy to play Sydney last as we’re hitting our stride. It’s the best time to play them. They are a great team with a lot of talent, they are well-coached. But we’re getting better and better. At the end of the day, we want to win and get more goals so we’re in good form going into Finals.”

Above: Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta speaking to the media on Friday. Photo: Adelaide United.

Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta opened his discussion with the media on Thursday by placing his team’s Finals qualification in context.

“Its significant because of our club’s history. It’s been a long time to play in a competition without making Finals. We’re really proud to represent the club in the Finals and everyone who has played for and represented the club down the years on the journey.”

Stenta knows that his team are playing consistently well at present, and as such he feels that they are capable of going a long way in the Finals.

“I’m extremely confident and the players’ confidence is growing. We are in good form coming into Finals and it’s good to play Sydney on Sunday as it is a good indicator as to where we are coming into the Finals.”

Looking back at the win over Melbourne Victory last weekend that clinched his team’s place in the top four with a game to spare, Adelaide’s head coach was pleased about his team’s ruthlessness when chances came their way.

“It was an interesting game. There were times when we didn’t have a lot of the ball, so Victory probably shaded us in terms of possession, but I thought we were clinical with the ball and did well with the ball in possession. We scored goals. The goal at the start of the second half was important.

“We’ve got multiple avenues to goal. It doesn’t bother me who scores them, it’s about just scoring. It does though make it difficult for the opposition knowing we have so many avenues to scoring. I’ve been so pleased with Chelsie (Dawber) and Fiona (Worts)’ contributions all year.”

Stenta also highlighted the importance of his team’s defence and pointed to continual improvements throughout the campaign.

“Keeping clean sheets is something that we focussed on after we conceded quite a few at the start of the season. I thought our structure was positive last weekend against Victory. They had a fair bit of the ball, so to defend as well as we did and deny them goalscoring opportunities was very pleasing.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Adelaide’s head coach knows his team will have their hands full, but is confident that they can win.

“Playing Sydney is always a difficult game. They are a side that has kept their playing staff and coaching staff very consistent. We know what to expect. One of the quirks of the draw this season is that we’ve played some teams twice and yet we haven’t met Sydney until the last day of the season. We’ll see how it stacks up and we’re keen to have a go at them.”

When it comes to team selection, Stenta was clear – there will be no resting players ahead of Finals. It’s all about going for the win.

“I’m a simple guy. I don’t look at ‘what ifs’ or resting players. I’ve made it clear to the players that I want to win whether it’s games in training or actual matches. We’ll go into the game putting out the strongest team we can possibly field.”

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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