Liberty A-League Match Preview: Sydney Derby

Another season of Liberty A-League Women’s football is upon us, and the Western Sydney Wanderers are looking to build on an improved 2022/23 season and challenge for a top four spot for the upcoming campaign.

Last season saw the side be increasingly competitive, and took the scalps of Melbourne City and Western United at home and saw the Wanderers finish in seventh place with the equal fourth best defensive record in the league.

There have been some changes in the squad, with some key players departing for Europe in the off-season, with superstar defender and Matildas World Cup hero Clare Hunt earning a deserved move to French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, whilst New Zealand international Malia Steinmetz has made the move to Denmark.

There has also been a change of coach, with former Socceroo Robbie Hooker set to lead the Wander Women this season; Hooker previously coached at Canberra United, and also spent time as an assistant coach at both the Socceroos and the Matildas.

Hooker will be supported by existing Liberty A-Leagues staff including assistant coach Peter Kofinas, head of high performance and physio Sarah Kelly, goalkeeper coach Trinity Allen, analyst Sam McGowan and team manager Ivka Radas.

On the pitch, there has been the signing of talented foreign players Vicky Bruce, who is fresh off leading Bristol City to promotion to the WSL, and she is joined by fellow Americans Maliah Morris and Kaylie Collins.

These new signings will hope to link quickly with the returning players in the side, including newly appointed captain Amy Harrison, who takes over the armband from the departing Hunt and will look to once again form a strong partnership in the middle of the park with Olivia Price.

The Wanderers are being thrown into the thick of the action straight away to begin the season, as they face a Sydney Derby away from home in the opening round on Saturday.

Coming up against last season’s Grand Final winners who are buoyed by the re-signing of Cortnee Vine despite rumours she would head off to Europe after an impressive World Cup campaign.

The two Sydney Derby fixtures saw two tight battles take place, but our opponents were ultimately able to prevail in both fixtures.

The first game at Marconi Stadium saw the visitors go down to 10-players when captain Nat Tobin was sent off for receiving two yellow cards in the first half. The Wanderers pushed to utilise the numerical advantage and score the crucial goal, but instead the opponents would score the winner eight minutes from time through Remy Siemsen.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 24: Cushla Rue of the Wanderers shoots for goal during the round six A-League Women’s match between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium, on December 24, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The return fixture that took place on Christmas Eve saw the Wanderers fight hard, but they were ultimately undone by two first half goals in four minutes.

The Wander Women are hoping they can upset their rivals in the first match of the season and lay down a platform for a return to the finals, with the club having last finished in the top four in the 2019/20 season.

It will be a tough test in front of an expected large crowd – with interest in the women’s game soaring after the successful World Cup – but a talented Wanderers team will go into the match with no fear, knowing they have the quality to beat any opposition on their day.

An away derby win would certainly be one of the most famous in the side’s history.