Canberra United will face Melbourne City in Round 2 of the Westfield W-League, looking to start with a win!
Canberra United will be looking to make a positive start to their ninth Westfield W-League campaign, despite facing off against defending champions Melbourne City at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
The match will see the debut of Japanese international Yukari Kinga, who arrived in the national capital on Wednesday ahead of the weekend’s match.
Kinga is the first Women’s World Cup winner to play in the Westfield W-League and will look to use her 100 caps of international experience to guide the new generation of Canberra United players to victory against City.
Fellow international players Jasmyne Spencer and Celeste Boureille are strong additions to the offence and midfield, with Spencer representing Sydney FC in last season’s Westfield W-League.
Dower will also be looking to newly announced co-captains Ellie Brush and Michelle Heyman to provide the on-field leadership after decision of former skipper Nicole Begg to take a year off from Westfield W-League duties.
Brush has continued her commitment to United since signing on as a foundation player, while Heyman has been promoted to a leadership role since returning to the squad following this year’s Olympics campaign with the Matildas.
“Michelle has come back (from the Olympics) a really mature player,” said Dower.
“She’s actually relishing that time in her life and in her career where she actually wants to take on further leadership roles.”
Heyman, 28, has scored 44 goals for Canberra United since joining the club in 2010, but may drop into a deeper role this season to co-ordinate the attacks of Spencer and fellow attackers Ashleigh Sykes and Hayley Raso.
Among the experienced members of last season’s squad was goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who will walk out for the opposition on Saturday.
Williams made 68 appearances for United after joining the inaugural squad, but the Tuggeranong junior headed south this season to join Melbourne City.
City, playing in just their second Westfield W-League season, have already built a formidable reputation, having not lost a competitive fixture since their creation.
Joe Montemuro’s side have welcomed back Welsh international midfielder Jess Fishlock for this campaign, but the loss of Matildas forward Lisa de Vanna has placed added expectations upon young striker Larissa Crummer.
After starting last year’s Westfield W-League with a 6-0 thrashing of Sydney FC, City began this season in much more reserved fashion, securing a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets thanks to Mariana Tabain’s early goal.
A positive result against City would bode well for United’s own title ambitions this season.
The team in green were shaping up as the closest challengers to City last season, but ultimately fell short of back-to-back grand final appearances despite finishing second in the league.
For Dower’s side the only way to go is up, as United look to become the first team to win three Westfield W-League championships.
“From being that champion and now wanting that back, some of the girls have had a taste of it and now they want it back,” Dower said.
“It just means that every game we need to treat as an individual game and to try to win that game.
“If we can do that and get those wins along the way throughout the season then we’ll put ourselves in a really good position.”