Ante Juric’s Sydney FC will need to focus in as their first assignment of 2024 awaits in the visit of Canberra United to Leichhardt Oval in the re-arranged fixture after the Sky Blues’ visit to Uzbekistan for the AFC Women’s Club Championship.
This will be the first time that these two sides have met in NSW in almost two years since Maria Rojas scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 rout for the Sky Blues.
This time around, it won’t be as easy with every match so tight and tense this season across the entire league.
Tight and tense has been the storyline in each of Sydney FC’s last games as they have been looking for a route to goal but are yet to score more than one in the 90 minutes since a 3-2 loss to Melbourne City back in late November.
Last weekend, it was 18-year-old Jynaya Dos Santos who was the unlikely hero, coming on as a second half substitute to nod home a Taylor Ray cross at Allianz Stadium in a 1-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix. Jada Whyman also had a very impressive game with seven saves overall, including preventing a late barrage from the Kiwi visitors.
That was her 4th clean sheet of the season and Whyman will have a tough time keeping out the free scoring Canberra on Wednesday night.
Ante Juric also welcomed back Mackenzie Hawkesby to the side after her stint overseas and as she gets more minutes in her legs, she will only improve after making her debut on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, Nat Tobin, Lucy Johnson, Shea Connors and Fiona Worts all remain sidelined for this clash and Juric will have a dilemma on his hands as to which player her prefers up front on Wednesday night.
This season, if you’re coming to a Canberra United match, you’re guaranteed entertainment. There’s been an average of 4.5 goals per game in matches including them and they currently sit on the bottom of the table but some of their performances have probably warranted more than just the five points.
While free scoring at the top end of the pitch, their defence has let them down, drawing 4-4, losing 3-2 and 4-3 earlier on this season.
Last weekend they hosted Western United and despite a strong first half showing where they went ahead through an Alana Cerna own goal (under pressure from Michelle Heyman) Canberra held on to gain a point against last season’s grand finalists. Chloe Lincoln had an impressive performance in net once again as she repelled the Western attack however they were lucky with the Green and Black wasting a number of opportunities and seeing one effort correctly ruled out for offside late on.
A shining light for Canberra this season has been Vesna Milivojevic who despite being only 22 years old is the main creative outlet for Njegosh Popovic’s side. From 8 matches and 8 starts she has scored 8 goals and has been instrumental to her side going forward. She will surely be looking to add to her season’s tally on Wednesday night at Leichhardt Oval along with Michelle Heyman who is nearing closer to her 100th Liberty A-League goal, currently sitting on 96 from 167 appearances.
The last meeting between these two sides was a 2-1 victory to Canberra with Rola Badawiya on the scoresheet for Ante Juric’s side and former Sydney FC player Ellie Brush nodding home the winner for the hosts. However, upon review after the match, it was seen that United used four substitution windows rather than the allowed three and the match was reversed to a 3-0 win for Ante Juric’s side.
Catch the latest instalment of the Liberty A-League when it returns to Leichhardt Oval this Wednesday night.
Sydney FC v Canberra United
Liberty A-League Round 4
Wednesday 3rd January 2024
Leichhardt Oval, Leichhardt, NSW
Kick Off: 7:00pm AEDT
Gates Open: 6:0pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Play
Tickets: Click Here