The 2011 Westfield W-League season is set for an epic finale with two closely matched teams set for an intriguing battle in the nation’s capital.
Westfield W-League 2012 Grand Final
Match: Canberra United v Brisbane Roar
Date: Saturday 28 January 2012
Venue: McKellar Stadium – Canberra
Kick Off: 3:00pm (EDST)
Gates Open: 2:00pm (EDST)
The match will be shown live on ABC at 2.50pm.
The 2011 Westfield W-League season is set for an epic finale with two closely matched teams set for an intriguing battle in the nation-s capital.
By almost every measure, Canberra United and Brisbane Roar counter-balance each other with the pair having filled the top two positions at the conclusion of the league campaign.
In the only match-up this season the two could not be separated playing out a 2-2 draw, albeit the Roar equalising with two minutes remaining thanks to a fortuitous own goal.
Indeed, that fine line goes back even further. Both of the last two matches between the clubs have ended 2-2, while no more than a goal has separated the pair in the five most recent meetings dating back to 2009.
Last season Brisbane ended Canberra-s dreams of a maiden championship with a penalty shoot-out victory in the semi-final. Big game experience is one area where the Roar perhaps shade their opponents.
Brisbane-s drama-charged win on penalties against Sydney FC last weekend ensured Jeff Hopkins side would take their place in a fourth consecutive grand final. There has been little change of personnel in that time and that additional know-how could be a valuable part of the Roar-s armoury when the heat is on this weekend.
Canberra may have a more youthful side or, unlike the Roar-s Matildas laden side, at least one that has enjoyed less exposure to international football. However, United do have finals experience of their own to fall back on having reached the play-offs in all four seasons, including the grand final back in season one.
Survivors from that team include Lydia Williams, Ellie Brush and the Sykes twins to name but a few, and the small matter of overturning that 2-0 defeat will provide yet more incentive.
Now United have Michelle Heyman leading the attack and 13 strikes this term has taken her outright top on the list of all-time Westfield W-League goalscorers.
Not that Canberra are by any means reliant on star power. On the contrary, coach Jitka Klimkova has brought a real sense of togetherness in her first year at the club, and the synergy within the team is clear to see.
Brisbane too have achieved as a unit rather than by pure x-factor as has perhaps been more the case in previous seasons. The team have been resilient throughout the campaign and twice secured crucial equalisers during injury time, most notably in the 95th minute against Sydney FC in last Sunday-s epic.
On both occasions super sub Emily Gielnik was the goalscorer. The Young Matildas forward has bagged eight goals this term, an incredible seven of which have come after entering the fray. Gielnik says she is happy coming off the bench, and like Lisa De Vanna with the Matildas in years gone by, it seems that is when she is most dangerous.
Meanwhile, Roar team-mate Tameka Butt seems to thrive on big game energy, having scored in all three Westfield W-League grand finals, and last year being named player of the match.
Despite last weekend-s torrid encounter with arch-rivals Sydney, Brisbane Roar hope to bring their full squad to Canberra with goalkeeper Casey Dumont getting through the full 120 minutes despite recent injury concerns.
On the other side of the ledger, the home side will likely be boosted by the presence of experienced playmaker Caitlin Munoz. The dangerous Munoz – whose grand final experience stretches all the way back to 2002 when she scored the only goal as Canberra Eclipse won the old Women-s National Soccer League – made a brief but welcome appearance off the bench against Melbourne Victory last Saturday following recent knee surgery.
Also set for a return to the fold is dual international Ellyse Perry following commitments with the Australian cricket team.
A full house is expected in the nation-s capital with the compact Belconnen venue sure to be a sea of colour and noise.
Canberra are unbeaten in 11 matches this season and have the benefit of home ground advantage.
Brisbane are unbeaten in nine matches dating back to round three and have the proven experience to cope under pressure.
The stage is indeed set for a stunning conclusion to a remarkable season.
Westfield W-League Grand Final squads
Canberra United squad: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 2. Caitlin COOPER, 3. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE, 4. Christine WALTERS, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 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
* Three to be omitted
Unavailable: Kahlia HOGG (overseas – USA Scholarship), Leah BLAYNEY (injured – knee)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Casey DUMONT (gk), 2. Laura ALLEWAY, 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (c), 5. Brooke SPENCE, 6. Joanne BURGESS, 7. Kim CARROLL, 9. Catherine CANNULI, 10. Lana HARCH, 11. Aivi LUIK, 13. Tameka BUTT, 14. Vedrana POPOVIC, 15. Sasha MCDONNELL, 16. Michaela HATZIRODOS, 17. Emily GIELNIK, 18. Olga CEBRIAN GARCIA, 19.Ellen BEAUMONT, 20. Hoshimi KISHI (gk), 21. Rebecca PRICE
* three to be omitted
Unavailable: Elise Kellond-Knight (knee – season), Ashley Spina (knee – season)