Brisbane duo ready to Roar in Westfield W-League 2018/19 Finals Series

Yuki Nagasato and Hayley Raso are two footballers who have each endured wildly different six-month spans.

Signing for Brisbane following a starring spell with NWSL side Chicago Red Stars, Nagasato has thrived down under.

The Japanese international has played every minute of her 10 matches this Westfield W-League season pulling the strings for Mel Andreatta's outfit as the Roar secured a second-place finish.

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On the other hand, Raso has been counting her blessings since returning from a frightening spinal injury suffered in the NWSL six months ago.

The 24-year-old has now made three consecutive appearances for Brisbane - matches she had initially feared she would never play in.

Yet the two attacking stars will join forces as Roar does battle with Sydney FC on Sunday night for a spot in the Westfield W-League Grand Final. 

 


Following intense rehabilitation after the incident that saw her break three vertebrae, Raso made her return to football in Round 12, facing Sydney FC in a homecoming at Lions Stadium.

"I remember feeling very anxious and nervous and just wondering how the game would pan out," said Raso.

"It was emotional because of everything that I went through and how long it was. But to be back out there, once I got going it was just exciting, it was so great to be back doing what I love again."

Looking nothing like a player who had to relearn how to walk five months ago, the Westfield Matildas star scored in the following match, a 4-1 rout of Canberra United.

"I had an opportunity to get a goal in that first game back so I was a bit disappointed in myself missing that, so to come out against Canberra and get the goal was great," she said.

Now Raso is eyeing off her second Westfield W-League Championship and her first with Brisbane.

However, the champion forward paints a picture of gratitude, enjoying every minute she plays after the game was so nearly taken away from her.

"Any team could beat any team on any given day. You didn’t really know who was going to win or how the season was going to pan out, but it's great to see the teams in the top four," Raso said. 

"I’m really excited that I can be a part of the semi-finals and I’m grateful that I’ve played the last few games and can compete this weekend."


With the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Finals Series on the horizon, Nagasato is just enjoying football in Australia.

The 2010 UEFA Champions League winner has found her home at the Roar, comparing their fan support to that of her NWSL side.

"I hope the stadium will push our performance higher," said Nagasato

"[The fans] are similar to NWSL fans and especially like Chicago Red Stars fans, so that makes me feel very comfortable on the field."

Speaking about their two losses against their Sky Blue opponents, the 31-year-old holds no doubts the Roar can bounce back when it matters most.

"From my experience, finals are way different to the regular season games," she said.

"In the season we lost against Sydney twice and it can [make us think] negative, but the tournament is way different and some great players have come back to play, so we have a lot of possibilities to beat them."