The Socceroos and Matildas on the world stage, an independent A-League, and changes in the FFA hierarchy - it's been another big year in Australian football.
SOCCEROOS BUILD UNDER ARNOLD
January's Asian Cup was a disappointing affair for an undermanned Australia, with the Graham Arnold era ending in a quarter-final loss to host nation UAE. Since then though the Socceroos have taken a stranglehold on their World Cup qualifying group with four wins from four starts including a vital 1-0 victory over nemesis Jordan in Amman. Harder challenges await in a bumper 2020 for Arnold's men, including the start of the next stage of World Cup qualifying, and Australia's historic guest appearance at the Copa America. The search for goals following Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak's retirements has been eased with Adam Taggart and Jamie Maclaren both enjoying good years in front of goal for both club and country while Scottish-born defender Harry Souttar made headlines by scoring four goals in his first two appearances for Australia in October.
MATILDAS COACHING DRAMA OVERSHADOWS WORLD CUP
The FFA's decision to sack Alen Stajcic just months ahead of the Matildas' World Cup campaign in France was a public relations disaster and an unwanted distraction for Australia's players. The tournament itself began with a shock 2-1 loss to Italy before a come-from-behind win over Brazil and Sam Kerr's four-goal haul in a 4-1 thumping of Jamaica. Unfortunately a defeat on penalties in the round of 16 to Norway ensured the Matildas left the tournament with a sense of underachievement. Friendly wins over Chile in November brought strong crowds and will be a platform to build on ahead of Olympic qualifiers in February and March.
FFA GRANTS MATILDAS HISTORIC PAY DEAL
With the blessing and support of their Socceroo counterparts, the Matildas will be paid on the same scale for representing their nation under a collective bargaining agreement announced in November. The deal not only gives leading players a bump in pay but also allows women's players the same access to travel benefits, facilities and resources as the men. Considering just over a decade ago players were sleeping in airport waiting rooms between flights, it's a massive step for the women's game in Australia.