We take a look at the prospects for perennial Westfield W-League championship contenders Canberra United.
Canberra United’s track-record of consistency over the life of the Westfield W-League is remarkable. They have featured in seven out of eight finals’ series, winning two championships as well as finishing runner-up way back in season one. Last season saw Canberra United overcome a slow start to be a model of consistency for a second-place finish, before an unlucky semi-final elimination against Sydney FC.
For a variety of reasons there has been a large turnover of players at Canberra United, perhaps the biggest in the club’s history. The loss of club stalwarts Caitlin Munoz to another knee injury and goalkeeper Lydia Williams to Melbourne City have been offset by some impressive recruits. The headline-grabber name is arguably 2011 World Cup winner Yukari Kinga. But it is in attack where Canberra boasts an embarrassment of riches with the arrival of Sydney FC striker Jasmyne Spencer, plus Stephanie Ochs and Hayley Raso returning to the nation’s capital to link with the ever-prolific Michelle Heyman and reigning Julie Dolan medal winner Ash Sykes.
After leading Canberra to second in her debut season, coach Rae Dower is back at the helm undoubtedly seeking to go one better on the ladder and also take out the Grand Final. Weaving in the many new personnel will be a primary initial aim. “Part of our recruitment process was making sure we brought in players that could (fit in smoothly),” said Dower.
“We have some good characters, no egos and a good team ethos. I think Canberra has always been known for having that team culture and I don’t envisage that this year will be any different.
“This is like a changing of the guard a little bit, with some players retiring, some moving on for work and some unforeseen late injuries. It is a regeneration time for the team, but it has happened organically.
“Our goal will be to make the finals, and then you are in a separate competition. We would be looking for a home semi-final for our fans, and then obviously from there to get to the big dance! We will certainly be looking to play attractive football and entertain the crowd.”
First match: v Melbourne City, GIO Stadium, Canberra, Saturday 12 November, 3pm
(Hyundai A-League double-header – Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix, 5.35pm)
Ins: Georgia Boric (promoted), Hannah Brewer (Melbourne City), Celeste Boureille (Portland Thorns, USA), Trudy Burke (Melbourne City), Laura Hughes (promoted), Clare Hunt (promoted), Yukari Kinga (INAC Kobe Leonessa, Japan), Stephanie Ochs (Houston Dash, USA), Hayley Raso (Melbourne Victory), Karly Roestbakken (promoted), Jasmyne Spencer (Orlando Pride, USA)
Outs: Nicole Begg (sabbatical), Catherine Brown (injured), Kendall Fletcher (Western Sydney Wanderers), Grace Gill (retired), Emma Kete, Rebecca Kiting (study), Melissa Maizels (Perth Glory), Meg McLaughlin (sabbatical), Caitlin Munoz (injured), Veronica Perez (KIF Orebro, Sweden), Tegan Riding (Eastern Suburbs, Brisbane), Lydia Williams (Melbourne City)