In this week’s Midweek Dub feature, Sydney FC star Mackenzie Hawkesby speaks to us about how the team can overcome two successive Grand Final defeats and the potential for further international opportunities (25/1/23).
by Kris Goman
Above: Mackenzie Hawkesby in action for Sydney FC this season. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.
Tomorrow sees Sydney FC match up against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Punters will be battling with tennis crowds for parking to watch the battle for third place on this public holiday.
Both teams are level on 18 points and a win for either team would see them stand alone in third, although Sydney have two games in hand. The Harbour City side’s six-game winning streak was abruptly halted by Western United over two weeks ago and their scheduled home game with Perth Glory last weekend was postponed due to pitch problems.
As they strive to regain that winning feeling, all eyes will be on Mackenzie Hawkesby. She’s played every match of her professional football career for Sydney FC and every game under Ante Juric’s tutelage. She’s one of only five players to start every match last season and scored five goals and made eight assists in the process.
Hawkesby also won the coveted Player of the Season award last year and was the highest-priced player in the A-League Fantasy Football competition. This season she has created more than twice as many scoring chances from set plays as any other player, justifying her Fantasy League price.
Impetus caught up with Hawkesby and discussed the success of last season and the strong start and progress this season. Assessing the positives of 2021/22, the Wollongong native agreed that, ”Last year was an amazing year for our team and personally for me there are so many positives that I have taken from last season. The key one for me is that I feel a lot more confident coming off a strong season last year and I am trying to take that into my current season.”
Reflecting on her five goals and eight assists from last season, she said: ”Last year was huge for me I was very happy with how I was able to contribute to the team.” In terms of a barometer for success or further improvement this season, she replied that “Stats wise I was really happy last season and this season I am just trying to do my role as well as I can, and hopefully the stats come with that.”
With two goals and three assists to date this season, she’s well on the way to matching last season’s achievements.
On the back of a premiership-winning season and being runner-up in the Championship, we were keen to understand what was the biggest challenge faced last season, both from a personal and team perspective. “As a team, continuing to perform and win is always a challenge but we managed to handle that super well and back up our performances. Personally, I just wanted to keep performing and help the team and stay at my best so I think that is always challenging.”
It was disappointing for Sydney FC to once more win the Premier’s Plate last season and get beaten in the Grand Final by Melbourne Victory. Sydney beat Victory 2-0 in the second round this season and tomorrow’s match represents another chance to seek revenge for those two consecutive Grand Final defeats.
Hawkesby believes that her side are well placed to go one better this season as long as they “continue…to stick to our principles and stay disciplined and take each game as it comes. As a squad, we have such an amazing culture and identity and we know that hard work pays off so we just need to keep working hard and build every game so that come the end of the season we are ready to go.”
When quizzed on her personal and team goals between now and the end of August 2023, she replied, “Personally I want to win the double – both premiership and Grand Final, and just contribute to the team as best as I can.” This rather modest reply seems to ignore the upcoming World Cup.
This time last year, Hawkesby was called up to the Matildas squad to play Spain and Portugal in Europe. While she didn’t get a cap then, with Tony Gustavsson now based in Australia and attending many Liberty A-League games, she must be on the radar once more based on her performances this season.
The Sydney attacker believes that she remains in contention for the national squad, saying: “I think just playing well in club land will give anyone a good chance of getting in contention for calls up.”
Hawkesby is certainly playing well, and with many players just starting back at their European clubs after the Christmas break, it’s not clear if all the overseas-based players will come out for the Cup of Nations next month, which could potentially open the door to locally based players. The midfield is hotly contested and Katrina Gorry is an obvious choice but the battle tomorrow between Chidiac and Hawkesby could be telling.
If you’re in Melbourne, the match is a double header Big Blue at AAMI Park with the women kicking off at 4.05pm AEDT on Thursday 26th January 2023. It is also broadcast live on Paramount+ and 10Play in Australia. Tickets are still on sale and can be bought if you Click Here