By Ann Odong
Australia’s best female footballers will be on display this weekend when two of the Westfield W-League’s powerhouse clubs meet again in the grand final. Defending champions Sydney FC will face off against Season One champions Brisbane Roar this Saturday at Campbelltown Stadium.
From the first whistle of the 2010/11 season, Sydney FC have been the dominant side of the competition. The Sky Blues, as they are affectionately known, have played a fast-paced, highly skilled, and offensive brand of football.
Led by strike duo Kyah Simon (12) and Leena Khamis (8), they have rammed home 34 goals in 11 games, blowing away their closest opposition Brisbane (19 goals). Simon and Khamis are well supplied by a talented midfield that boasts the likes of Matildas Kylie Ledbrook and Teigen Allen and the creative Renee Rollason.
In spite of the above, it would be wrong to consider that Sydney are all about attack. Finishing the season with the second best defensive record, the Sky Blues’ back line, marshalled by Servet Uzunlar, has also been superb. While they are defenders first, Danielle Brogan, Caitlin Foord, and former Chicago Red Stars defender Lydia Vandenbergh, have all adopted the offensive mentality of the side with numerous attacks initiated from deep in their own half.
Coach Alen Stajcic considers that their approach to the game could be a championship winning recipe.
“I think our strength is our variety in attack. We have had so many different goal scorers and so many different ways that we have scored goals,” Stajcic said. “When you can score goals in so many different ways and have so many different people contributing to the goal, it just makes it really hard for the opposition to target one particular area.”
On the other hand, Brisbane had a tougher start to the season, but once the machine started roaring, they were difficult to stop. The rock for the Roar in the last two seasons has been their defense. Unsurprising really when it could easily be the national team backline.
Captain Clare Polkinghorne, Elise Kellond-Knight, Brooke Spence, and Kim Carroll have been just some of the names that have seen them amass the best defensive record in the League.
Despite this, Brisbane aren’t exactly lacking in the attack department. Regulars Tameka Butt, Lana Harch, Lauren Colthorpe, and Jo Burgess have again been productive this season, but the addition of speedsters Lisa De Vanna and Kennya Cordner has added an extra dimension to an already imposing forward line.
Roar coach Jeff Hopkins believes his side learnt plenty of lessons from their 1-0 Week 7 win over Sydney at the same venue, and will go in with a lot of confidence.
“We need to work as a team,” he said. “It’s not just about our back four; we need to defend well right from the top. But knowing that we can attack well down the middle or just as well down the flanks, we can produce short combination plays or be a little bit more direct, is nice.
“I think both teams are very, very evenly matched in all departments. It may be the team that has just that little bit something special on the day, are going to come good.”
This is set up to be another arm wrestle, and for the winner, the championship and history awaits.
After hanging up her gloves on a football career that only reached the heights she could jump, Ann Odong has turned her attention to reporting and supporting the game she loves. Ann will be looking at the game down under as well as examining those behind the game.
(The photo by Cam Wheeler may not be replicated, reproduced, distributed or downloaded.)