W-League launched ahead of blockbuster weekend

The seventh season of the Westfield W-League kicks off on the weekend with a host of Matildas and international stars taking to the pitch.

Representatives of all eight clubs – Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Canberra United, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers – were in Sydney on Monday for the official launch of the 2014 season.

And with players looking to cement a spot in the Matildas for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada, there’s everything to play for.

Monday's W-League launch

One of the most hotly contested jerseys is the Matildas No. 1.

Regular goalkeeper Lydia Williams is sidelined by a knee reconstruction, so the likes of Melbourne Victory's custodian Brianna Davey and last season's goalkeeper of the year, Melissa Barbieri will be looking to build a case through the season.

Melissa ' Bubs' Barbieri, Adelaide United

ABC TV will once again cover the ‘match of the week’ live and exclusive throughout the competition and all matches in the finals series.

The W-League continues to attract high calibre domestic and international stars.

Reigning FIFA Ballon d’Or winner and Germany captain, Nadine Angerer, has returned for another season with Brisbane.

 Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop said there is genuine excitement around women’s football in Australia and the W-League is at the vanguard.

“The last season of the Westfield W-League was truly entertaining, full of skill and drama, which saw both crowds and broadcast numbers rise,” Gallop said.

“This season of the Westfield W-League will take on an added dimension after the Westfield Matildas qualified for the next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup through their outstanding performances at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in May where they finished runners-up to Japan.

“All Australian players will be looking to use the upcoming Westfield W-League season as the shop window to impress the national team coaching staff for a place in the final squad that will represent Australia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next June.

“Add to that the high calibre of international players that we have again attracted to the competition and I believe that this season of the Westfield W-League will be even better than the last.”

Michelle Heyman, Canberra United

After a breakout 2013/14 Sydney FC young gun Amy Harrison is one of those itching to get back on the pitch for the Sky Blues.

“I can’t wait for it all to happen,” Harrison told the club’s website.

“It’s been a long preseason and it’s good to have officially launched the competition now. I’m looking forward to getting back out there on Sunday.

“Last season I had a successful season personally and hopefully this season I can do one better and improve my game even more.

“I want to do my best for the team no matter what role I’m playing and hopefully score a few goals in the process.”

Harrison earned the Sky Blues a hard fought victory over Adelaide in their previous match with a well taken dramatic 95th minute goal, her first ever W-League strike, and the Young Matilda is hoping that Sydney FC can get the job done earlier than they did at Adelaide in January.

“They pushed us right to the end last season so hopefully we don’t have to wait and score a late winner,” Harrison said.

“We’ll try and get it as early as possible, play our best football and hopefully on the day we can create and finish our chances and stop them.

“There’s a few fresh faces in the team and we’ve got two internationals and a few coming from the Wanderers. We’ve been doing well this preseason and gelling well together so hopefully that continues onto the park on Sunday and keeps going.”

Meanwhile Brisbane Roar's squad contains five players who will play their seventh consecutive season for the club – long-standing captain Clare Polkinghorne, Brooke Spence, Kim Carroll, Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Butt. 

Head coach Belinda Wilson said: “This is another season where the majority of the playing group are Queenslanders, which is important to us as a squad and to us as a club.

“It’s exciting to know some of our foundation players have gone overseas to experience other cultures and other leagues and I’m excited to see how that influences our training environment.

“There’s a good mix of experience and youth in our squad as well as plenty of passion, drive and determination to do well this W-League season.” 

The W-League action kicks off with the Newcastle Jets hosting the reigning champions Melbourne Victory at Magic Park on Saturday. The next day, Brisbane Roar travel across the Nullabor to face Perth Glory at Ashfield Sports Club, Sydney FC host Adelaide United at Lambert Park in Sydney and the Western Sydney Wanderers go head to head with Canberra united at Campbelltown Stadium in the ABC TV match of the round.

The season will conclude with the W-League Grand Final on Sunday, December 21.

W-League weekend action:

Saturday, September 13

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory
Magic Park, 11am

Sunday, September 14

Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar
Ashfield Sports Club, 2pm

Western Sydney Wanderers v Canberra United
Campbelltown Stadium, 3pm

Sydney FC v Adelaide United
Lambert Park, 4pm