Champions Head to Roar for Opener

The champions Canberra United begin their quest to retain the Westfield W-League crown on Sunday in Brisbane.

The champions Canberra United begin their quest to retain the Westfield W-League crown on Sunday when they meet Brisbane Roar in the opening round of the competition in front of the Fox Sports cameras at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. And United will be keen to replicate their Season 6 opening day success when they beat the Roar in Brisbane to open their campaign.

This will be the seventh time in eight seasons that Canberra has begun the Westfield W-League with an away fixture and will be the fourth time they have met the Roar to kick-start the season. Whilst the most recent of those matches resulted in a thrilling 3-0 success at AJ Kelly Fields in Season 6, thanks to goals from Lori Lindsey and a Michelle Heyman double, the previous pair of games produced just one point.

In Season 2 the Roar proved too good at Ballymore winning 3-0 whilst Season 5 saw the teams share the spoils in a goal-less draw at McKellar Park, United’s sole home opening game of the Westfield W-League to date. Last term saw the Roar miss out on Finals football for the first time in their history and they will be keen to get back into the top four this time round and add to their two championships and two Grand Final victories. 

Indeed, with five Grand Final appearances to their name no club has been to as many deciders as the perennial challengers from Queensland. However, there are a number of indictors that this could be a transitional season for the team under the leadership of Belinda Wilson. Her squad for 2015/16 will contain nine new players with stalwarts Elise Kellond-Knight, Vedrana Popovic, Brooke Spence and Kim Carroll all having departed or missing the season through injury whilst German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer will not be returning and ex-Canberra United star Hayley Raso has joined Melbourne Victory.

The squad is still smattered with top level athletes however including Matildas’ trio Clare Polkinghorne (on loan from Portland Thorns), Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry, who were part of the Australian team that reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada in June. Add in some promising youth and Canberra will still have plenty to do to get a positive result.

Canberra has four new faces of their own who could make their debut in this match with defender Jenna McCormick vying for a starting berth alongside midfielder Veronica Perez and forward Emma Kete with youngster Nickoletta Flannery also impressing at training. Emma Checker has yet to recover from a slight hamstring injury sustained in the VPL semi-final. United departs for Brisbane on Saturday morning. 

Brisbane Roar v Canberra United will be screened live on Fox Sports Channel 505 from 2pm on Sunday 18th October. Canberra United supporters are encouraged to visit the Tradies Club, Dickson to catch all the action on the giant screen. 

Canberra United Squad
1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 2. Catherine BROWN, 3. Julia DE ANGELIS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Meg MCLAUGHLIN, 9. Grace GILL, 10. Grace MAHER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Emma KETE, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 16. Tegan RIDING. 17. Veronica PEREZ, 18. Rebecca KITING, 19. Nickoletta FLANERRY, 20. Melissa MAIZELS

In: 5. Jenna MCCORMICK (Adelaide United), 12. Emma KETE (Fencibles United), 17. Veronica PEREZ (Washington Spirit), 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY (ACTAS)
Out: Grace FIELD (sabbatical), Sally ROJAHN (sabbatical), Holly HOUSTON, Chantel JONES (Western New York Flash), Stephanie OCHS (Houston Dash), Lori LINDSEY (retired)
Unavailable: 15. Emma CHECKER (1 week)