Canberra looking to make their second Grand Final
The first semi-final pits minor premiers Canberra United up against the fourth placed Melbourne Victory at McKellar Park. In Season Four battles between these two protagonists have been tight and tense and this Saturday promises to be no different.
For Jitka Klimkova's Canberra United it has been an unprecedented season with the club gaining their first premiership and becoming the first team to finish the W-League season undefeated. However, as anyone from the club will tell you, it's these last two weeks that really count.
Canberra have been here many times before but their last grand final appearance was back in Season One. For the Czech it will be her first W-League finals.
"I feel really excited about the game. I see on the field that everyone is really ready and excited to play on Saturday," said Klimkova.
"The break [last round bye] really helped us to relax and to have more energy for the game in front of us so I think it was great."
Canberra go into the match warm favourites and, although the semi-final is less than 24 hours away, you won't heard talk of "semi-finals" or talk of pressure.
"We don't call it semi-finals, we call it game number 11."
"I think that is helpful. We don't talk about semi-finals. We don't talk about big, big, big game. That is more from outside [the club]."
"Inside [the club] we are talking about the game in front of us, the other island we want to achieve. But of course in our brain we can't forget it’s the semi-finals and its bigger than the other games."
United's foundation will be their strong spine consisting of Lydia Williams, Caitlin Cooper and Ellie Brush, Sally Shipard and Michelle Heyman. These five players have been instrumental to Canberra's success and will again be crucial to their advancement. However complimentary stand out performances from Nicole Sykes at the back, Taryn Hemmings in the middle and Ashleigh Sykes up front will be required.
The marked improvement of the Sykes twins and the recruiting of Hemmings are key reasons for Canberra's consistency. And it is that considerable closure in the gap between the best players and the weakest links that has makes Canberra a difficult team to defeat.
Tactically Canberra will either set up in their traditional 4-3-3 or occasional 4-4-2. This will depend on if coach Jitka Klimkova will start the recently signed Emma Kete.
As to the opposition Klimkova is very aware and very cautious of the threat they pose.
"I always said when I saw Melbourne playing, they are a really strong team. And they are stronger and stronger game after game."
"They are now not just creating the chances, they are scoring the goals and we really have to ready for that."
"Both of the teams want to play football. It is a lot about possession, switching the play, creating the chances and scoring the goals. So for everyone it really can be good game."
|Michelle HeymanThe Golden Boot winner is a difficult match up for most defences. Strong and very quick, Heyman can be a creator, goal poacher or score the spectacular.|
|Taryn HemmingsThe American utility has been one the reasons Canberra have performed so well. Defensively she can play a lock down role and in attack she is the perfect link between the midfield and the forwards.|
|Lydia WilliamsThere have been times where Williams has been the only person keeping Canberra in a game. She will again need to have a big game if Melbourne start to dominate and Taylor gets a sight of the goals.|
Canberra United v Melbourne Victory
Saturday 21 January 2012
McKellar Park, Canberra
Local kick-off: 3pm
Referees: Kirralee Gardner / Sarah Ho / Allyson Flynn /Samantha Ockerby
Tickets available at the game: Adults $10, concession $5, kids under 12 free
Watch the live stream: http://www.abc.net.au/news/sport/programs/w-league/
Canberra United squad: 1. Lydia Williams, 2. Caitlin Cooper, 3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale, 4. Christine Walters, 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Hayley Raso, 9. Grace Gill, 10. Snez Veljanovska, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Sykes, 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 15. Sally Shipard, 17. Emma Kete, 18. Taryn Hemmings, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 20. Aroon Clansey
*two to be omitted*
Head to Head: Canberra: 4 wins, 2 losses, 1 Draws
Last Meeting: Round 10, 30 December 2011: Melbourne Victory 1 (Taylor (pen) 20') – Canberra United 1 (Heyman 87')