by Ryan Miller-Woods
Milivojević and Murray: We have the game to beat Western United
Canberra United will be going into this weekend looking to not only keep their finals aspirations alive but get one over their opponents Western United after going down to a 5-0 defeat in their only previous encounter at McKellar Park.
Speaking to the media today, Vesna Milivojević outlined how Canberra are going to approach the match: “I think just internally we are going to focus on ourselves and what we need to do to get the job done and of course, it is up to the coaches to analyse the opponent but I think we can get away with a good result.”
Western United have scored the most goals league (36) and have only conceded 16. When asked if there are any areas of Western’s game that she thinks Canberra might be able to exploit this weekend, Milivojević responded: “Definitely! I think on our press we are really rapid and also on our counter-attack in so transition moments I think we can hurt them.”
Reflecting on the 5-0 loss the last time the teams met, Milivojević said: “I think mentally we just weren’t prepared for that first game, I think we just got overwhelmed by the opponent and we kind of respected them too much but this weekend it’ll be totally different.”
Holly Murray also outlined her determination to rectify that tough loss when the team travel to Victoria this weekend, and keep their slim Finals hopes alive into the final week of the season.
“I think every team has to be confident. It’s such a tough table with teams coming from below us and us chasing top four, but if our team keeps sticking to our game plan, hit the back of the net anything can happen.
“Once we win it (possession) up there, it (Canberra’s pressing game) is crazy to beat, so I think just sticking to what we know and what we’re good at can hopefully deliver us a win.”
by Ben Gilby
Van Egmond: Recruitment and Academy the key to improvements
Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond has outlined his aims for the club’s development – prioritising recruitment and the club’s academy after he was announced as permanent head coach.
Speaking to the media today, van Egmond confirmed that a root and branch study of how the women’s team are set up is underway.
“We need to look at travel and players. We are looking at what a squad is. (We need) 18 players, and scholarship players on top of that, and (next season will be) a 35-week comp, a serious comp, but that comes at a serious cost in terms of making sure you have numbers for playing and training.
“We have to look to see how we improve – the internationals that have come in, they have done a good job. From a youth development perspective, that’s a ‘working towards’. We need to start kicking on how we invest more into our academy and see how we can make them more ready to play (A-League Women).”
The Jets boss highlighted how a stronger academy system will benefit the senior squad saying, “Depth is a big issue for us. You need to have players outside of your 11 and know there is not a huge amount of difference between the players you have and those who come in. That comes with developing the academy squad. We shouldn’t be in a position that you lose a player that is homegrown to another Australian club.”
van Egmond has rolled up his sleeves and knows he has a big job ahead of him, but believes he can be successful, and has the contacts to help bring about change.
“It can turn around pretty quick – in terms of who is in the squad and who we can recruit. I’ve been in the Future Matildas, Young Matildas for a long time, those contacts can benefit me and the club. Those discussions are already starting. We also have to get the best staff we can from the budget we have available.
“We need to look at homegrown players overseas may be returning. The model for us is to have a homegrown model of players coming through and going into the W-League (A-League Women). Are we in a position to do that for season one? No, we are not.”
The Jets boss mentioned former Jets stars Clare Wheeler and Emily van Egmond as players who may potentially be out of the club’s reach, but admitted: “Players coming for a guest stint…” was an option.
With the A-League Women going to a full home and away season from 2023/24, with a minimum of 22 matches for each side, van Egmond ventured how it may well make the league more attractive to Australian internationals to come back from Europe to play in.
“The advantages of them staying here is that is a 23-week season, four or five-week pre-season, then the finals. It’s a good comp for a player to show their wares and see where they can develop.”
In finishing, the Jets boss laid on the line his expectations for next season. “We’ll be extremely disappointed if we don’t make Finals next year. Hopefully, we can do what we need to do and get it supported.”
Club legend Carroll announces retirement
Perth Glory announced today that long-serving defender Kim Carroll has announced that she intends to retire at the end of the current Liberty A-League Women season.
The 35-year-old is in her seventh season with the club for whom she has made a total of 91 A-League Women appearances, while her career tally in the competition passed the 150-mark earlier this year.
Carroll joined Glory ahead of the 2015/16 campaign having won a Premiership and two Championships with Brisbane Roar and immediately became a cornerstone of the club’s defence.
Either side of a one-season return to Roar in 2020/21, she moved to fourth position in Glory’s all-time record-appearances list and memorably scored her first-ever goal in purple against Canberra United in December 2019.
In addition to being one of the domestic competition’s greatest-ever defenders, Carroll also enjoyed an excellent international career, winning 54 Matildas caps and being a part of the squad which claimed the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010.
Having started in all but one of Glory’s ALW games this season, she admitted the decision to hang up her boots at the end of it had not been an easy one to make. “In the last couple of seasons, it’s been in the back of my mind,” she said.
“I’d love to play forever, but that’s not reality. The plan was to stop when I stopped enjoying it, but that hasn’t been the case as I’m still enjoying it and I’m keeping up and I’m competitive. But it just feels like the right time.
“I wanted to finish on my terms, not play on until I’m not enjoying it and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. I’ve got a partner now and I’m looking to enjoy life outside football.
“Perth means a lot to me and it’s become home in a sense and the fans have been great over the years. I’d like to thank my partner and my family, along with the fantastic players that I’ve played with throughout my career.
“There’s also my boss at work, who has been really understanding and there have been a lot of coaches and support staff along the way and people at clubs that I’ve kept in touch with.
“Once the season finishes, it’ll be nice to have a relaxing holiday and then I’ll focus on my other career and hopefully a family.”
Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis was unstinting in his praise of the contribution Carroll has made over the course of her illustrious club and international career.
“Kim has been a long-serving asset to the women’s game and to the wider context of Australian football,” he said.
“Her decision to retire at the end of the season is one which I respect and I am very pleased she has been able to make this decision on her terms and on her timing.
“She has been a massive contributor to the team and the club and over the last two seasons, I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to coach her and lean on her experience and leadership. There is no doubt she has made me a better coach along the journey.
“She has undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on the game, both on and off the field, whilst playing a role in ensuring that the women’s game moves forward.
“I will always be grateful to have been involved in a very small part of her journey and I look forward to seeing her continue to be a success in the other areas of her life away from football.
“Kim will always be welcome at the club and I wish her the absolute best in her future endeavours.”
Carroll’s final home appearance for Perth Glory will be in Sunday’s crunch clash with Melbourne City at Macedonia Park.
by Ben Gilby
Wisnewski: I’m ready for the challenges ahead
Wellington Phoenix’s Grace Wisnewski told the media today that she backs her team to put to bed the disappointments of their defeat to Perth Glory when it comes to their huge battle of the bottom two against Newcastle Jets on Saturday.
Reflecting on the Nix’s 1-0 loss to Perth in Wellington last weekend, Wisnewski said: “I feel like everyone was gutted. Obviously, we came off that win against Sydney and we wanted to get back-to-back wins that we’ve been working so hard for. It was disappointing not to score in a game we felt we dominated and then to concede a silly goal was disappointing (too).”
Wellington created plenty of chances against the Glory but failed to convert any, and the midfielder outlined how training has focused this week on rectifying that profligacy in front of goal.
“We’ve been doing a lot of crossing and shooting, it’s about getting the confidence back into the team to know that we can score.”
Whilst there are only two weekends of the home and away season remaining, Phoenix have three games to fit into an eight day spell – two away (Newcastle Jets on Saturday and Adelaide United on Tuesday) before finishing the campaign at home to Melbourne Victory on 1st April. Wisnewski knows there are significant mental and physical battles to come through before the season’s end. The 20-year-old feels she is in a much better place this year to overcome those challenges.
“We have three games in eight days. Playing games is mentally challenging. I look at myself now and last year, and I’ve progressed. I look at the team I have here supporting me, and it’s amazing. I have no doubt that I’ll get through it well.”
Before the Nix can focus in on Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory, they have a huge match on Saturday away to Newcastle Jets in the battle of the bottom two. Gary van Egmond’s are just one place and two points above Wellington. With Wisnewski’s side in the better form currently, she is in no doubt that the trip to New South Wales offers the team a real chance to avoid the wooden spoon.
“It’s huge. We want to go out there and prove that we’re not a bottom-of-the-table team, and I think we’ve had performances this season to show we’re not a bottom-of-the-table team, and we have a chance this week to prove that’s the case. We have Newcastle, Adelaide, and Victory. Any team we play now, we believe we can beat. That’s the strong mindset this team has. We just need to perform and score some goals.”
Rolston: We just need to have a crack
Experienced Wellington Phoenix attacker Emma Rolston told the media today that she believes a focus on their attacking play and tactics can stand them in good stead ahead of Saturday’s big game at Newcastle Jets.
The New Zealand international floated the opinion that a focus on getting defensive strategies right might have come at the detriment of developing the team’s attacking play, but that is now changing.
“We’ve worked hard on playing as a defensive team. Now we have the chance to focus on attacking. We can put time into it – are crosses going into the right places? Are we getting enough players into the box? Are players running into the right areas? We can focus on that and put it right over the last three games.”
Rolston identified the specific areas that she is assisting her younger teammates with offensively. “When I see the goal I want to shoot. That’s what I’ve been like my whole career. I’m saying that ‘when you see the goal, have a crack.’ A lot of the girls have a great shot, so I’m just helping them.”
The concentration on attacking play comes after Wellington created a number of chances against Perth Glory last time out, but failed to convert any, and lost the match as a consequence.
“We had the game,” the 26-year-old admitted. “We were asleep for the first 20 minutes, but then had more possession than them and created so many opportunities, but couldn’t finish. Are we too afraid to shoot in the box because people don’t have confidence? We need to stay composed and finish.”
Saturday’s trip to Newcastle Jets is winner takes all in terms of the placing of the bottom two sides, and Rolston is confident that Phoenix have what it takes to get the win.
“It’s massive. We know going into this game it’s a must-win. We need to be composed and score goals, but not concede anything. We know if we win we get off the bottom of the table. Then we want to move up. We go into it firing.
“It’s who turns up on the day. You have to have the right mindset and be prepared to fight. It won’t be easy with the travel we have, but those are excuses at the end of the day. We get on with it and we play the games.”