The 2018/19 W-League season has been a massive break-out for Princess Ibini.
The recently nominated Footballer of the Year has seen a shift from super-sub to starting stalwart, and at just 19 years of age, the best is yet to come for this youngster.
Putting away four goals and an assist for Sydney FC this season, there is no doubt Ibini has grown as a player, with her newfound confidence playing an integral part in helping her team progress to the W-League finals.
“I definitely feel like I’ve matured and am playing a lot better this season,” she said.
“Being able to start for Sydney FC has really helped with my confidence, but what’s helped with my performance is the high quality and intensity of the W-League, along with the experience I’ve gained playing in the Future Matildas program.”
It was while Ibini was playing in the Future Matildas program, that people began to really take notice of the up and coming forward.
Although she missed the opener of the 2018/19 W-League season due to playing in the ACF U19 Women’s Championship qualifications, the teenager was still able to give Sky Blue fans an exciting taste of what was to come upon her return.
Driving home five goals for her country, the Condell Park local was crucial in the success of the first round of the Young Matildas campaign to qualify for the AFC U19 Women’s Championship, and will no doubt be just as essential in round two in April.
But for now, the big-ticket item on Ibini’s list is to help her team raise the W-League Championship trophy for the first time in almost a decade.
This will be no minor feat against a Perth Glory side, heavy with world-class superstars.
Coming up against lethal combinations like the all-time joint W-League and NWSL leading goal scorer, Sam Kerr along with the ever-dangerous Rachel Hill, is daunting for even the most experienced of players.
But for the cool-headed Ibini, facing off against some of the best footballers in the world is no big deal. She has total faith that her team have got what it takes to get the job done.
“Perth’s front three are definitely their strongest point, but we’re not too worried about that,” she said.
“All over the park, we’re a really strong team so we’re just focusing on playing our own game. As long we stick together and have belief in each other, we will get the win.”
Racking up the most tackles among the forwards of her team, 18 touches inside the opposition’s box and a 75 percent shooting accuracy, the Westfield Sports High alumni has plenty of reason to feel confident heading into the final.
Her cool, calm and collected approach could be the difference Sydney FC needs to bring home the trophy.
As for what’s next for Ibini, she’s just taking things as they come.
“Once the W-League season wraps up, I’ll probably head back to the NPL and play another season with the North West Sydney Koalas,” she said.
“Making the Matildas World Cup squad would be amazing, but I’m hoping to make it into the Cup of Nations squad before that, so will see how that goes first.”
If her current form is anything to go by, it goes without saying that this young gun is in good stead to achieve those goals.
You can catch Sydney FC and Perth Glory as they battle for the Championship on Saturday February 16, 4.30 pm at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah.