Scraping into the finals, Sydney are eyeing off the grand final | (Credit: Getty Images)
After a less than perfect season, Sydney made it to the finals by the skin of their teeth. Don’t judge them on that though. When it really counts, here they are, and that tenacity is what they will need to win on Sunday.
This isn't the first time Sydney have made it to the final either, with consecutive appearances in Seasons 2 and 3. In Season 2, Kyah Simon and Alen Stajcic were there and they won. The year after Teresa Polias, Renee Rollason, Caitlin Foord, Nicola Bolger and Alanna Kennedy joined the gang but the result wasn’t as favourable. That means this team has some pedigree and another loss isn’t something they will be contemplating. Maybe it’s their time.
If you’re looking at key matches for Sydney this year, you need look no further than last week and the week before. Two weeks ago they clinched the last finals berth defeating the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-2. The week after they stunned many of us by defeating Brisbane Roar in the first semi final with the scoreline again 3-2 in Sydney's favour.
That‘s Sydney at their best and it was a bigger shock to me than Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe speech.
For most of the season Sydney has struggled to maintain that level against the top teams and already have a loss to Melbourne for the first time in the short W-League history.
If last week is anything to go by the key players to watch will be Kennedy, Kerr and Polias. On the field, Kennedy is as mature an 18 year old as you will see. She’s strong in the air and on the ground and works well with her midfield. Kerr is damaging, makes her own space and probably prefers to play by herself putting the ball cleanly in the net without the opposition touching it. While Polias is the midfield master, patrolling and controlling the centre of the park.
Finally, if you’re on twitter (and why wouldn’t you be?), you may have noticed @SydneyWFC calling out “The Cove”. I have no real idea who or what that is, but when I watched the documentary I was in tears. It worries me.
Why is it coming to Melbourne and I hope it goes back after the game. With a bit of luck, the only tears I shed this time will be tears of happiness.
Thanks everyone for a great season. Let’s finish it off with a colossal contest.
Sydney’s kryptonite is their own inconsistency this season. They scraped into the finals in their last breath and Melbourne’s game of control and possession will break Sydney’s momentum. Where they’ve struggled during the season to put two wins together, I hope they struggle to put two passes together let alone two wins. Sydney will also be missing Kete and Perry. Replacing them shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Staj, but this will test their depth to still have a strong bench to bring on fresh legs and not drop quality.
Another lump of kryptonite is Sydney’s inability to stop goals. The only teams with more goals scored against them were Newcastle and Adelaide who finished on the bottom of the ladder. You can’t win games if you don’t stop goals and the goalfest in round 9 was proof of that (Perth 7 - 5 Sydney). On top of that, Davey and her defenders are in great form and will not let your goals in either.
All of them! (forward): So when I said before the core is key, there’s no point having a core without legs and the Sydney forwards get fed well and knock goals from anywhere you like. Longo’s goal last week was a stunner, overshadowed only by the beauty of McCallum’s shot which Victory fans will remember for a long time. Again I’m struggling to pick one player. If I pick Simon because she’s strong and fast, Kerr will score, and if I choose Kerr because she’s clever and skillful, Kyah will score because she’s got that too. It’s like telling your team to defend only one player. Double team one of them and the other is free so don’t take my advice, watch all of them.
Teresa Polias (midfielder): Sydney’s midfield is their strength. Just like running, having a strong core is the key and Sydney have no problem ticking this box. It’s hard to pick just one player, but against Victory, I think Polias is the one to watch. Possession and control is the way to beat Melbourne and Polias won’t let go and is great on the first touch. Teresa has had a great season and the NSW Women’s Premier League Platinum Medal winner will be keen to showcase her skills to new National coach, Hesterine de Reus.
Caitlin Foord (defender): My favourite Sky Blue defender to watch is Caitlin Foord. There’s something about the way she moves with the ball that makes you relax. I’m not really relaxed though, I’m stressing about what she’s going to do with it. Easily distribute it to the versatile midfield or sublimely pop it through to the quick forwards. Make no mistake, Foord is a playmaker, having taken away the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award in 2011. Foord is technically very clever, deceptively fast and persistent. She will need to be on her game to stop the Melbourne forwards who will be ready to pounce on any opportunity.