Where we are with the Westfield W-League
A look into how the previous Westfield W-Leagues have gone ahead of its third season.
With the Westfield W-League about to enter its third season, the state of women-s football in Australia has never been so healthy. This point could not be proven more by the Westfield Matildas who became the first ever Australian side to win some silverware since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.
In winning the tournament, automatic qualification to their next big challenge (The FIFA Women's World Cup) was secured, meaning the Aussie women will now be facing the best players in the world as well as Asia.
Before looking too far ahead though, there is over a month left until the big kick-off between perennial contenders Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar on 6th November. The first two seasons of the new style of league produced some great games and showcased the talent we have here in Australia.
All the winning AFC Cup winners are set to be involved in the Westfield W-League this coming season so it should be one of the best quality leagues in Asia.
After completing two successful seasons following the Hyundai A-League model (with the addition of Canberra United as the only none A-League side in the competition) the third season is eagerly anticipated and at present clubs are scrambling to get their best players to put pen to paper.
Newcastle Jets are the only side with an almost full squad to date but over the next five weeks the rest will follow and all the latest info on who's going where will be on the W-League website.
First though, here's a quick recap on how the first two seasons went:
Season 1: 2008
Champions: Queensland/Brisbane Roar
Grand Final: Queensland/Brisbane Roar 2-0 Canberra United
Semis: Newcastle Jets 0-1 Canberra United Brisbane Roar 1-1 Sydney FC (Brisbane win 5-4 on penalties)
Golden boot: Khamis (Sydney) 7, Beutel(Queensland), Gill(Newcastle) 6
Queensland Roar and Sydney FC kicked off the season as they meant to carry on, both scoring four goals in the opening round of the first ever Westfield W-League season. Sydney came away from the west coast knowing that they topped the first ever table.
The second round saw beaten finalists Canberra United pick up their first points of the season after being beaten by Newcastle Jets in the first round. They inflicted the only defeat of the season on eventual table toppers Queensland Roar. Sydney carried on their good form and won their first ever home game 2-1 against Melbourne Victory.
The Roar then turned things around and went on an unstoppable winning streak, notching up maximum points in the next seven consecutive games. The only other team to get anything from them all season was Canberra who held them at home in the final game of the league season.
At the end of the season the Roar were a staggering eight points clear after only ten matches and looked far and away the best side in the competition. However, on reaching the final, they had to face the only side that had beaten them and indeed stopped them from taking maximum points.
The Roar made sure of their revenge though when they came away winners by two goals to nil.
Final league standings:
|Central Coast Mariners||4||0||6||15||20||-5||12|
Champions: Sydney FC
Grand Final: Sydney FC 3-2 Brisbane Roar
Semis: Sydney FC 3-0 Canberra United Central Coast Mariners 0-1 Brisbane Roar
Golden boot: Heyman (Central Coast) 11, Khamis (Sydney) 7, Walsh (Sydney) 6
Despite Queensland changing to Brisbane Roar (due to Gold Coast United and North Queensland being in the A-League now) there was no change in their form as they put last season-s bogey team Canberra to the sword in the first outing of the new season.
Sydney lost to new contenders Central Coast Mariners who carried on their winning form throughout the season winning seven out of the ten matches played. Canberra dropped off from the previous season-s performances but still managed to make the play-offs where they were soundly beaten 3-0 by a handy looking Sydney team.
Three teams stood out above the rest at the end of the league, with Sydney just pipping Central Coast and Brisbane by one and two points respectively on the final day. Brisbane-s penultimate week-s loss proved to be costly as they missed out on another league triumph by two points.
The title was Central Coast-s to lose though as they only had to draw against Sydney at home in the last game of the season. A 1-0 win by Sydney to their New South Wales neighbours was enough to snatch the trophy from under their noses.
The semis took on a similar look to the first year but this year Sydney made the final and were gunning to prove that their league finish meant they were the best team in the competition. Sydney won an exciting encounter at Shark Park 3-2 when an exciting last 15 minutes saw Sydney hang on and take the trophy.
Final league standings:
With the countdown to the 2011 FIFA Women-s World Cup in Germany well and truly on, this year-s Westfield W-League is even more important. It will give players the chance to prove they-re good enough to play on the world stage and book their seat on the plane to Germany next year.