Match Preview: Champions kick off campaign with Derby

Ante Juric and his girls will get their Championship defence underway with a pulsating Sydney Derby at Allianz Stadium.

After beating all before them and lifting both the Premiership and Championship, the Sky Blues will be looking to do the double double and win both again this season.

And with the extended season, early form is everything and they will be looking to put their best foot forward against their rivals.

It promises to be an exciting evening of football as the first Women’s football matches since the World Cup take place.

After what has seemed like one of the longest off seasons, the girls have been working hard in training and now face up against the Wanderers.

Ante Juric has also welcomed plenty of new faces. Tori Tumeth, Lucy Johnson, Shea Connors, not to mention Julie Dolan Award winner Fiona Worts! And then as usual, he has picked the best up and coming youngsters around the league and will nurture them across the next few years to turn them into the best players.

Shea Connors has joined the club from Brisbane Roar where she won their Golden Boot

You only have to look at the talents that earned a move overseas last season, originally joining the club as relatively unknowns. Now, with a new squad at his disposal, he will be hoping to challenge once again.

In pre-season, Juric’s side took on Newcastle Jets and dominated the contest from start to finish, with goals to Taylor Ray and Lucy Johnson in the first half proving the difference. Overall, the Sky Blues dominated the 90 minutes and were very deserving of their victory.

Taylor Ray was on the scoresheet during pre-seaosn

Of course come Saturday night, all eyes will be on Cortnee Vine who has become the face of the league with her brilliant composure in the penalty shoot-out against France in the FIFA World Cup. After 7 goals last term, she will be looking for more of the same this season.

As for the Wanderers, they can’t be in much worse shape coming into this clash. Dramatically they parted ways with coach Kat Smith last week, just a week and a half out from the season. Replacing her is former Socceroo Robbie Hooker. The 56 year old previously coached at Canberra United in the inaugural A-League Women’s season and since then has coached as assistant in the Men’s and Women’s Australian team set up.

Most recently teaching at coach education sessions, the Australian will have a lot of work on his hands to turn around the side that finished 10 points outside of finals football. They have not had any public pre-season matches during this important time and likely played internal games to get fitness and speed ready for the season.

A bright spark for the Wanderers is the arrival of their New Zealand internationalist Milly Clegg who joins from Wellington Phoenix where she became the club’s top scorer during the last campaign. The teenager was also part of the Ferns World Cup squad but didn’t see minutes on the pitch. Under a new coach, this could be her breakout season.

Cortnee Vine celebrates her goal with team-mates in last season’s Derby

In this fixture, the Sky Blues have dominated in recent times, and you have to go back to 2019 to find a Wanderers win. They have only won one other against Sydney FC, which came back in the 2014/15 season. This weekend’s hosts have won 18 of them and only two have been drawn. At last season’s match up at Allianz Stadium, the Sky Blues utilising the space and quality of the surface and opened up the Wanderers on numerous occasions. They only managed the two goals, one from Mackenzie Hawkesby and the other from Cortnee Vine.

This time around, with a big crowd expected, and the excitement of the season starting, we should see a pulsating back and forth affair between these two sides.

Match Details

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Liberty A-League Round One
Saturday 14th October 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEDT
Gates Open: 6:45pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here