On another day of announcement of prominent player signings at A-League Women clubs, Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from Grace Maher, Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, Melinda Barbieri, and Meisha Westland along with the head coaches of each of the teams involved (16/9/22).
Above: Grace Maher (right) has signed on for another campaign at Canberra United. Photo: Canberra United.
Canberra United are delighted to welcome back midfield playmaker Grace Maher who has re-signed with the club for the forthcoming Liberty A-League season.
The talented Canberra local has been a mainstay of the club in recent seasons, having burst onto the elite level scene as a teenager, going on to make over seventy appearances in the league, scoring ten goals in the process.
Widely known for her ability to strike from range, Maher is a fan favourite having initially made her name in the local leagues before being snapped up to make her Canberra United debut in the 2014 season.
“I am thrilled to be signing for Canberra United for another season in green and am looking forward to working with Njegosh (Popovich), the Canberra United staff, and the rest of the squad,” Maher said.
“Canberra United are my local team and, whilst it may be cliché, they are my team and one that I feel privileged to play for. To represent my hometown team in the national competition is something I treasure, and I can’t wait to get back out in front of our magnificent supporters.
“Njegosh is building a squad that will be capable of playing creative, attractive football and with the combination of our loved homegrown players and new interstate talent, we will be fighting to bring trophies home to Canberra for the 2022/23 season.”
Maher, who has represented Australia at U17 and U20 levels, has spent all of her career with United, bar a couple of campaigns with Melbourne Victory, and has scored nine goals for Canberra and one for the Melbourne-based side.
“Grace is a top-class player, a technician, who has excellent control, a wide range of passing, and the ability to strike at goal from distance,” Njegosh Popovich, United’s Head Coach, said of the signing.
“We have witnessed at first-hand the qualities that Grace possesses over her eight seasons in the Liberty A-League and I am delighted that she has decided to re-sign for another season with the club.
“Not only is she a great footballer, but she also brings an understanding of Canberra and the culture of the club and the city, and that is important when you are building a harmonious and successful football club.”
Western United have added another quality player to their ever-growing inaugural squad with the arrival of four-time A-League Women Champion Tyla-Jay Vlajnic.
The 31-year-old has been a mainstay at Melbourne City since 2015, making over 50 appearances and helping the side to four Championships and two Premierships.
Vlajnic, who has represented the Serbia national team, is eager for a new start and more success with Western United’s first-ever women’s team.
“I am incredibly excited to join Western United this season. As a new team joining the league, we have an amazing opportunity to set a new benchmark for women’s football here in Australia,” she said.
“An inaugural year means we have the ability to create something special, and that’s pretty exciting. I am so grateful for the success I have already achieved but I’m ready for more in the Green and Black.”
Vlajnic has also had a strong career in NPLW Victoria where she helped Calder United to a Championship and Premiership double in 2016 before moving to Bulleen Lions in recent years.
Western United Head Coach Mark Torcaso is excited to work with Vlajnic again and is confident she will have a strong impact on the group.
“TJ has been a stalwart in Australian football and having her join us and want to be a part of our project is really important,” he said.
“The entire group will be able to lean on her experience and all of the success that she has had, but she still has the hunger to continue to achieve more with us at Western United and her drive and leadership will be able to push the rest of the players throughout the year.
“I’ve known TJ for some time and I am really delighted to work with her again, and I’m sure she will have a big impact on our group.”
Vlajnic can play in either full-back position or higher up on the wing when needed, with a strong mix of defensive and attacking abilities.
She becomes United’s 15th signing as the Club continues to fill its inaugural A-League Women side ahead of the beginning of pre-season in October.
Adelaide United today unveiled the signings of midfielders MelindaJ Barbieri and Meisha Westland for the upcoming Liberty A-League 2022/23 season.
Barbieri had spent the last seven campaigns at Melbourne Victory, recording 66 appearances and scoring four goals.
A two-time Liberty A-League Champion, the 22-year-old bolsters the squad with her versatility allowing her to feature not only in midfield but also on the wing.
Speaking about her decision to join Adelaide, Barbieri said: “I’m really eager about this new opportunity with Adelaide United.
“Over the last four or five years, they’ve really transformed into an extremely competitive team and play an attacking, attractive brand of football. This is a new challenge for me and one that I cannot wait to get started and help this team take the next step and win a championship.”
Meanwhile, Westland enjoyed her first experience of Liberty A-League football last year, playing 12 matches with Melbourne City. The 21-year-old is a defensive midfielder and has spent the offseason in the NPL NSW Women’s with Manly United.
Westland said: “Adelaide’s style of play captivated me last year and the opportunity to work under Adrian (Stenta) was simply one I had to jump at. I am looking forward to helping the team have another successful season this year and can’t wait to get started.”
Adelaide United’s Liberty A-League Head Coach, Adrian Stenta, said: “MelindaJ and Meisha arrive with plenty of quality.
“MelindaJ’s been part of squads that have lifted silverware, so that will be extremely beneficial to our playing group and offers our team real tactical flexibility.
“Meisha is a player that we believe can contribute to our midfield and provides depth in the centre of the pitch, having been introduced to this level last season.”