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The Week in Women's Football: A-League & Matildas; chat with NZ's Gabi Rennie; Chelsea star Sam Kerr on FIFA

This week we look at news from Australia and New Zealand, including some changes and new signings in the A-League Women for the 2022-23 season, some international player moves to new clubs for both countries and wrap-up some recent games and news for the Matildas and Football Ferns, including thoughts on two friendly victories earlier this month from Gabi Rennie, who played for New Zealand in those games and is playing collegiately at Arizona State University. Finally, we look briefly at how both countries' U-20 teams did at the FIFA U-20 World Cup last month in Costa Rica.

Australia—A-League Women expands season and other off-season news

There are some major changes coming for the Liberty A-League Women's 2022/23 season as it enters its 15th campaign. The loop is expanding for the second year in a row with Western United joining for the 2022-23 season and the league will extend that streak to three consecutive years as the Central Coast Mariners have received a provisional license to become the league's 12th team in 2023-24. Technically, the Central Coast Mariners are rejoining the league after playing in the first two seasons of the league in 2008-09 and 2009 before dropping out for cost reasons. Wellington Phoenix joined last season but, because of COVID travel restrictions, had to play their home games in Wollongong in New South Wales; they hope to be able to stage games this season in New Zealand, which will help to increase the visibility of the franchise at home, particularly among youth players, and help build excitement for the 2023 Women's World Cup next year, which the country will co-host with Australia.

The league is also moving to a six-month season (for a total 20 rounds—with each team playing 18 regular season games) in 2022-23 and plans to run for 8-9 months in 2023-24. Last season, the league played for just three and half months and each team played 14 games plus the playoffs due to the addition of the Phoenix—this was an increase of 12 games over the previous 9 seasons. The 2023-24 season will see 22 regular season games, with full home and away series for each team for the first time, and perhaps a cup competition as well. The league said in a press release that the 2023-24 season, "will provide Liberty A-League players with a total of 1,980 regular season minutes to aspire to play, which was in line with global benchmarks set by England's Women's Super League, America's National Women's Soccer League and France's Division 1 Feminine."

A-Leagues CEO Danny Townsend explained, "In the 18 months since we have been running the professional game in Australia, we will increase the number of regular season matches from 70 to 132, finally bringing Australia in line with global benchmarks and ensuring more opportunities for women to play at the highest level and for girls to benefit from the role models and expanded professional pathways this investment creates…We are just 12 months out from the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, and we want to make sure that every girl and woman in Australia has the opportunity to build and grow a lasting relationship with football, the country's most participated-in sport."

Melbourne City assistant coach and goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, a former Matilda, who at age 42 stepped in as the starting keeper last season and was outstanding, discussed the importance of the A-League Women expansion, "I've played 25 years and I've only just gone past 150 (league) games. In 25 years, I've played 150 games. Now, goalkeepers sit on the bench a lot—I get that. But 150 games in 25 years, that's not good enough." To be fair, the league has operated for 14 seasons and, according to league records, she has played 92 matches [in addition, she earned 86 international caps and was part of four WWC Finals teams], including 15 last season—and played no games for two seasons while coaching at City, but we do understand her argument and her reaction, "I want to say I'm excited, I'm happy, but the initial reaction is: it's about time."

Adding more games and extending the length of the season should draw more overseas talent to the A-League Women, particularly after the 2022-23 Women's World Cup next summer in Australia and New Zealand.

A League Women Offseason Team News

Canberra United

Canberra-born Njegosh Popovich is the new head coach of Canberra United, replacing Vicki Linton, who was in charge for just one season. Popovich had previously worked as an assistant coach for the A-League Women's side from September 2015 to March 2017. He rejoins the club with extensive NPL, academy and international coaching experience. Internationally he has spent five-years as an assistant coach with the Junior Matildas, most recently taking part with the AFC Women's Championship side which finished fourth in Thailand in 2019.

Popovich said about his new position, "I am thrilled to have been appointed as Head Coach for Canberra United and am very excited about getting started at the club. My aim is to put Canberra United back on the map in the Liberty Women's A-League. The club has a strong and proud history, and we should be challenging for league titles and playing in Grand Finals. My goal is to achieve that, and I am confident that we can regain our position as one of the most prominent clubs in the competition." Canberra finished the 2021-22 season in seventh place in the A-League Women.

Dynamic forward Nicki Flannery (23) is back after missing all of last season with an ACL injury. In addition, Wellington Phoenix's leading scorer in 2020-21 with 6 goals from 12 matches, Grace Jale, moved to Canberra in a big move for their front line, particularly with Flannery back; the club only scored 24 goals last season—sixth best in the league.

Another huge signing for the Greens attack was team captain Michelle Heyman, who extended her contract with a two-year deal. Heyman is the A-League Women's all-time leading goal scorer with 82 goals in 141 matches and won two league titles in the past with Canberra. Heyman scored nine goals in 14 appearances in 2021-22, with a hat-trick against Brisbane Roar in the last game of the season. She also has 20 international goals for the Matildas.

Defender Grace Taranto (19) joined Canberra from Adelaide United, where she played 15 games last season in the Reds first playoff season ever, and played with South Melbourne in the Victoria NPLW during the offseason.

Wellington Phoenix

2021-22 head coach Gemma Lewis was rehired as coach of the Wellington Phoenix, an important move by the club as she guided the expansion side to 7 points last season, which was a good result for a team comprised primarily youngsters that had to play all of their home games in Wollongong in New South Wales rather than in New Zealand because of COVID protocols.

Two important major signings for the Phoenix in the offseason included New Zealand international Paige Satchell, who joined from last season's Grand Final runners-up Sydney FC; another key signing is New Zealand international Betsy Hassett, who moved from Stjarnan of Iceland and brings huge experience; she appeared in three Olympic Games Finals with the Football Ferns.

New Zealand international Betsy Hassett is pressed for possession by Australia's Ellie Carpenter during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Photo Courtesy New Zealand Football Federation.

Hassett (31) is the Football Ferns fourth-most capped international footballer, with 132 caps for New Zealand as of the signing, with 14 goals scored. She played the last three seasons in Iceland with Stjarnan, scoring 7 goals in 44 games, following three seasons at KR in Iceland; she has played for 14 years abroad, including time with Manchester City in England in 2014, as well as in Germany and the Netherlands.

Coach Lewis said about Hassett's arrival, "Having that extra experience is going to add a lot of value to the team, as it's something we missed last season. She's definitely going to help us a lot. We wanted to get a couple of key, experienced players that are going to help us move forward without completely changing what we did last year, because we feel like we just got started. We showed the potential those young players we were working with do have and if we get the right players to play alongside them to add that experience, then we feel like we're going to go up a gear and really compete even more within the league." Lewis emphasized to during last season's campaign that she was not able to bring in talented Kiwi's or other internationals because of the franchises' late entry to the league, plus tight COVID travel and quarantine restrictions in Australia didn't help either (see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League review; Interviews with coaches of Adelaide, Perth & Wellington - Tribal Football).

Hassett was happy to join the Phoenix, "Ever since I was a little kid, I've always wished there was a professional team in New Zealand. That was one of the things I've wanted to do since I was a little kid and now finally there is a team, it's perfect timing. It's something that I've always wanted to do, and it may be my last opportunity as it might be the end of my career soon. It's a dream come true. It's going to be amazing to focus on football and be in New Zealand before the World Cup's there…We've got a lot of games in New Zealand with the national team as well so it'll be nice to not travel so much to and from Iceland."

Also for the Phoenix, New Zealand international goalkeeper Lily Alfeld is back for her second season with the Nix and her third consecutive in the league—after playing in 2020-21 for Perth Glory.

Note: in mid-September, Gemma Lewis announced that she was leaving the Phoenix to move back to her native Wales to take a job as the senior pathway manager for women's football at the Welsh FA, while also being able to study for her UEFA Pro License. Lewis explained her move, "Being able to work in women's football in Europe right now is huge and the opportunity to do my pro license as well is something that was a big pull for me. The cherry on the cake is I get to return home. I've been away from Wales for nine years. The opportunity to do all that and go home and spend a bit more time with my family all rolled into a package that was too hard to turn down…. As much as I talk about going home, I've spent a third of my life in New Zealand. It's difficult to leave. New Zealand has turned into my second home. I would have loved to do a second season with the Phoenix, but the timing didn't really work out."

Lewis will be missed and did a fine job with the Phoenix last season, but there should be strong continuity in the side as her assistant coach last season, Natalie Lawrence, was promoted into the lead coaching role for the Nix. Lawrence called her new position, "One of the proudest moments of my life. I feel like I've been fully part of the (club) so hopefully the transition for me moving into the head coach role, will be simple for the players." Lawrence is a native of England who first moved to New Zealand in 2011 explaining, "The World Cup's just around the corner, women's football is buzzing here and around the world and to be part of it at this level of the game in what I consider my home away from home is something you kind of dream of." She worked for Capital Football in Wellington from 2012-2015, coaching Capital in the national women's league before moving to Vancouver in Canada to lead the Whitecaps' women's academy program before coming back to New Zealand in 2018 to become the first female head coach of a men's national league side when she took charge of Team Wellington's [in the premier local men's league] youth team—whereas Wellington Phoenix plays in the Australia-based A-Leagues.

Matildas Continue their Preparation for the 2023 WWC

This summer, head coach Tony Gustavsson took a young side to Europe for games against Spain (June 26) and Portugal (June 29) in Iberia just ahead of both sides' 2022 Women's EURO Finals. Despite losing to Spain 7-0 and tying Portugal 1-1, one revelation was Sydney FC's forward Princess Ibini, about who Gustavsson said, "Princess is a game-changer." In the match against Portugal, Ibini subbed into the match at halftime and scored her first national team goal in the 73rdth minute on Emily Gielnik's cross, with Portugal gaining the tie three minutes from the end of the match through Telma Encarnacao (20—Maritimo). Ibini (22) has now been capped 8 times after those games. Matilda starting goalie Lydia Williams made her 100th appearance—the first female goalkeeper to hit that level—against Portugal.

Gustavsson explained his thought process for the squad he selected for the European tour, given that so many starters were excused after a long European season, including

English PFA Players' Player of the Year Sam Kerr (Chelsea of the WSL), and other English based players: Steph Catley (Arsenal), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur), Hayley Raso (Manchester City) and Mary Fowler (who moved from Montpellier in France to join Manchester City this summer), "Selection for this June squad has been based on a combination of factors but ultimately it has been about individualising player programs with a long-term view. In preparing the specialised plans, we have evaluated where the players currently are and where they will need to be and determined the best course of action for each player. For some players, this has meant being a part of these invaluable matches with Spain and Portugal, providing a chance to demonstrate how they can make our team stronger. For another cohort, it results in being proactive around reoccurring ailments and re-establishing a fitness baseline without the need to focus on peaking for matches. This is a crucial period in our groundwork for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup and there has been a true collaboration between players and staff to ensure we capitalise on the opportunities to position us well for 2023."

Gustavsson was pleased with the mental fortitude of his players following the humbling loss to Spain in their first match on the European tour, "A lot of teams would be devastated, low in energy and maybe stopped believing, but there's a really true belief in this core group of staff and a core group of players and they know that we need to go through this tough experience to come out a better team. What I'd say is the first half was really tough mentally because the wind was really hard and you saw all the technical mistakes that we made in the first half. The wind was killing us. Then in the second half, when we had the wind with us, there was better technical execution."

The summer tour did allow Gustavsson to bring in a number of domestic-based/younger players for the games. Larissa Crummer (26—Brisbane Roar) started the match in the midfield in both matches, which were her first caps in over two years after recovering from a broken leg. Spain's Aitana Bonmatí (24—Barcelona) scored in the first half for a 1-0 lead. Gustavsson brought on Brisbane Roar's Jamilla Rankin (19—who plays for Blacktown Spartans in the NPLW in the offseason) after the halftime break for her international debut.

Australia players pose for a photo for a team photo prior to the Women's International Friendly match between Spain and Australia at Estadio Nuevo Colombino on June 25, 2022 in Huelva, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)
Australia's starters versus Spain in June 2022. Photo courtesy of Australia Football Federation.

Stanford University's Amy Sayer, who made her first international appearance since April 2021, and Sydney FC's Taylor Ray (19—also Sydney Olympic in the New South Wales state league) came on in the second half as well. Ray has struggled with two ACL injuries and COVID over the past two seasons. Spain scored three times in the last 10 minutes of the match to turn the scoreline into a rout. Spain fell in the Women's EURO to England 2-1 after extra time at the quarterfinal stage.

Liberty A-League trio Mackenzie Hawkesby (22—Sydney FC/Sydney Olympic in the NPLW), Winonah Heatley (21—Melbourne City/Sydney Olympic and who just joined Nordjaelland in Denmark after playing a few matches with Vajxo in Sweden in 2021) and Matilda McNamara (23—Adelaide United, who also just moved to Denmark to join AGF—see more below) were on the traveling squad but did not play and are still waiting for their first full international caps, as is Jacynta Galabadaarachchi of Celtic in Scotland, who was also in the squad for the European friendlies. Hawkesby, McNamara and Ray all participated in a Matilda camp for the first time. Hawkesby was named Sydney FC's 2021-22 Player of the Year after the Sky Blues romped to a record fourth A-League Women Premiership (regular season title) and second in a row.

Galabadaarachchi (21) joined West Ham United in the WSL for the 2019-20 season from Perth Glory in the W-League after the 2018/19 season; she won a A-League Women title in 2016/17 with Melbourne City. She then played a short time with Napoli in Italy and is in her second season with Celtic. Galabadaarachchi is also eligible to play for Argentina (her mother's preference as she was born there) as well as Italy and Sri Lanka; she won the Scottish Players' Association Young Player of the Year award and Celtic's Player of the Season title last season, when Celtic won the League Cup and Scottish Women's Premier League Cup.

Galabadaarachchi played in boys' teams up to the age of 16, by which time she had already flown to England to train with Manchester United. She has been taught Spanish by her mother, who is keen to see her play for La Albiceleste. Galabadaarachchi explains, "When I was younger, I was with the Australian national squad a little bit. Under-20's, under-17's, I've been to a couple of camps with the first team as well. But I can also represent Italy and I can also represent Argentina so at the moment I'm not sure who I want to represent. I like playing for Australia, I've enjoyed it so far, but at the moment I'm not sure who I want to play for. My mum would really love me to play for Argentina; she's really passionate and patriotic about her country and I am too. So at the moment I'm just deciding what I can do. It's football reasons and what my heart wants. I've seen Argentina women play and I really like the style of their play as well. I like the tiki-taka football, the passing, I like dribbling a lot, and I'm quite creative the way that I play. So I think playing for the Argentine squad might actually suit me a little bit more than playing for the Australian squad. But at this point I'm still not sure, I don't know which one I'll pick. But, either way, I love both countries."

Argentina had a fine 2019 WWC in France but as Galabadaarachchi builds her career in Europe, Australia seems like the best bet to join, with a consistently strong team to challenge for world titles—Toni Gustavsson's coaching losses notwithstanding. This writer believes that Australia should cap her as soon as they can for the senior level, particularly with her multiple options at the international level, as she is a tremendous young talent who should have a long career in Europe. Recently qualified World Cup Finalists Italy would be a nice second choice while Argentina—though directly qualified for next summer's World Finals—still are having internal problems with their federation for funding and player safety issues and probably is not at even Brazil's level of challenging for titles at the top level. I am surprised that, at the end of the September international window, Australia had still not capped her (see below). They rushed to cap Mary Fowler when she was still a teenager as Ireland was pursuing her. Australia could lose Galabadaarachchi just as they did another young European-based talent, India Page-Riley, who chose New Zealand over Australia recently (see more below).

Jacynta Galabadaarachchi (#8) celebrates winning the SWPL Cup Final over Glasgow City 1-0 in the 2021-22 season.

Photo courtesy Glasgow Celtic Women/A-League Women in Australia website—

Note: Galabadaarachchi, as well as Hawkesby, Heatley, McNamara, Ray and Sayer were not on the Matildas roster for the early September home friendlies versus Canada (see below).

On September 3, Canada defeated Australia 1-0 in Brisbane, with Adriana Leon (29—who moved Manchester United after three years at West Ham United this summer) scoring in the 12th minute, with an assist to Jordyn Huitema (21—OL Reign and ex-PSG in France). Kailen Sheridan (27—San Diego Wave) was outstanding in goal and had multiple outstanding saves from Sam Kerr (Chelsea of England), including tipping a late potential tying shot over the crossbar. Canadian head coach Bev Priestman said after the game, "I was most pleased with our commitment, our togetherness, and the will to do whatever it takes to win. I couldn't be more proud because, whatever they [Canadian team] faced, whether it be travel delays, injuries to squad and all those sorts of things, but when the whistle went, they got down to business and they delivered. That makes me really proud."

In the 1-0 win, Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns) set a milestone by making her 316th career international "A" appearance, tying USWNT player Carli Lloyd for second place in the world's all-time appearance list. Sinclair now sits 38 appearances behind former USWNT Kristine Lilly, who made 354 appearances across a 24-year career. Simi Awujo (University of Southern California) and Clarissa Larisey (Glasgow Celtic of Scotland) made their international debuts in the 75th minute.

On September 9, Adriana Leon doubled her input from the first match and scored twice to lead Canada to a 2-1 win and the double over Australia during this international window. Mary Fisher opened the scoring in the 3rd minute for the home side but Leon scored in the 48th and 64th minute to give the Maple Leafs the win at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Leon now ranks sixth all-time on Canada's goalscoring list with 27 while captain Christine Sinclair moved into second place on the world's all-time list with 317 international "A" appearances. Down 1-0 after three minutes on the Mary Fowler opener, Sinclair set up the equalizer in the 48th minute before 19-year-old center back Jade Rose (Harvard University in the States) set up the game winner in the 64th minute.

A happy Bev Priestman said after the match, "No spots are given and going into a FIFA World Cup, I think that's a healthy place to be; everyone is going to give you more. More than anything, I've come away with a new shape and new players in that shape. Being able to change and to rotate players in different positions means freshness across the pitch, which is an element we aim to achieve." Across 13 international matches this season, Canada have posted a record of eight wins, three draws and just two losses.

Matilda head coach Tony Gustavsson pointed out how little preparation time his side has before the World Cup next summer, "Everyone talks about 'it's almost a year to the World Cup.' But we actually broke all the FIFA windows down and we have five FIFA windows, that means we have 46 days. Out of those 46 days, 14 days go to travel and recovery. That leaves us with 32 days. Out of those 32 days before the World Cup roster is announced, it's going to be 11 games and 11 pre-game sessions. That leaves us with 10 proper training sessions; 10 sessions where we can play 11 v 11 and work on all the details. That's how soon we're going to announce a roster [before] coming here and preparing for the World Cup. So it's around the corner. Every minute counts."

To be fair, Gustavsson was handicapped in the Canada series with a number of missing regulars, including Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyonnais of France), Hayley Raso (Manchester City of England), Steph Catley (Arsenal of England), Tameka Yallop (Brann of Norway), Chloe Logarzo (Kansas City Current in the U.S.), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal of England), and Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur of England).

Gustavsson has to start getting some wins in these practice matches as they have done poorly in a number of high-profile friendlies over the last two years, including losses of Spain (see above), Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and now Canada. Australia have won only eight of the 26 games (with 5 draws and 13 losses) they have played since Gustavsson was appointed in 2020, but the Swedish coach called for more backing for his team by the country's sporting community, "When you believe, it means you can achieve something that is more than expected of a team. And the one thing [that] is for certain is, I have this job because I believe in this team, and I know the process we're into, the players believe in the process, and believe in this team as well. Look at what England did in the EUROS, for example, with the home nation supporting them. If we can believe, then it's going to be a very, very interesting World Cup." After the second loss to Canada, Gustavsson said that he still believes the Australians could become one of the best teams in the world, "I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think it's the difference between expectations and belief and I say that from other experience from coaching both men's teams and women's teams and both club and country, that it's a huge difference between expectations and belief. When I took over, I actually believed that this team, in the future, could become one of the best teams in the world. We're not there. Now, we need to be real. We're not the best team in the world right now. But we know when we play our best, we can beat the best team in the world in a one-off, especially if all [of] our players [are] available. I love that we want to be winners and we need to keep believing in the team." It doesn't get any easier for Australia as next they face the last Olympic Games Finals Silver Medalists Sweden in Melbourne on November 12th.

Many coaches and media around the world think that it is probably too late to make a change of head coach before the WWC next summer (though Netherlands just recently dumped Mark Parsons for Andries Jonker, who led the side to a very late 1-0 win over Iceland in their last Group match of the UEFA WWC qualifiers—a win would have given Iceland the automatic berth but now the 2019 WWC Finalists and 2017 EURO winners are assured of a spot in Australia/New Zealand next summer). For more on the UEFA and Intercontinental Playoffs, see last week's column: The Week in Women's Football: UEFA 2023 Women's World Cup Qualifying; Intercontinental Playoffs - Tribal Football.

As long as key internationals such as Sam Kerr and Alanna Kennedy and others support him, Gustavsson should survive, but—even accounting for injuries and COVID protocol issues—his reign has been a disappointment. He always has reasons for the defeats (see the wind excuse in the 7-0 loss to Spain above, limited FIFA windows remaining, COVID-19 preventing him from moving to Australia, etc.) and he talks about Australia not being good enough yet but if the fans believe in the team, then they can replicate what England did last summer. I don't think Australia is anywhere near England's current level. They could be as the talent is certainly there but is Gustavsson the right person to guide them to that level as co-host next summer? Rather than believe, many fans are just hoping that things come together next summer and that Tony does indeed have a plan to success. Maybe Tony should stop with the excuses and the exhortations and focus on his squad selection ahead of next summer, which right now is looking as chaotic as in 2019 when Ante Milicic took over months before the France Finals from Alen Stajcic (who earlier this year led Philippines to next year's Finals). Unfortunately, next summer could end up in another underwhelming Finals (in 2019 under Milicic, the team lost on penalties to Norway in the Round of 16) and if so, what a lost opportunity that would be to build the game at home, particularly versus other popular football codes in Aussie Rules and Rugby League for both men and women.





Caps (goals)

Junior Club / Member Fed

Mackenzie ARNOLD


West Ham United

29 (0)

Burleigh / Football QLD



Arsenal WFC

102 (3)

East Bentleigh, SE Cougars / Football Victoria



Racing Louisville FC

18 (1)

Croydon Kings/ Football South Australia



Hammarby IF

16 (0)

Ballarat City / Football Victoria



Capabala Bulldogs / Brisbane Roar

24 (4)

Peninsula Power / Football QLD

Caitlin FOORD


Arsenal WFC

101 (22)

Warilla Wanderers / Football NSW



Manchester City

26 (7)

Leichhardt / Football QLD



Aston Villa

53 (11)

Redlands United / Football QLD

Katrina GORRY


Vittsjö GIK

81 (15)

Mt Gravatt Hawks / Football QLD

Charlotte GRANT


Vittsjö GIK on loan from FC Rosengård

6 (0)

Cumberland United Women's FC / Football South Australia



Manchester City

107 (8)

Campbelltown Cobras / Football NSW



Chelsea WFC

110 (59)

Western Knights / Football West



Kansas City Current

54 (8)

Carlingford Redbacks / Football NSW



BK Häcken

36 (1)

Palm Beach SC / Football QLD

Teagan MICAH


FC Rosengård

10 (0)

Brisbane Blue, Brisbane Central / Football QLD

Courtney NEVIN


Hammarby IF

11 (0)

Oakville Ravens / Football NSW



Vittsjö GIK

144 (12)

Wynnum Wolves, Capalaba / Football QLD

Hayley RASO


Manchester City

62 (9)

Banora Point / Football QLD



San Diego Wave

119 (30)

Dudley-Redhead / Northern NSW Football

Cortnee VINE


Sydney FC / Sydney Olympic

4 (0)

Peninsula Power FC / Football QLD



Fortuna Hjørring

10 (0)

Adamstown Rosebud / Northern NSW Football



Paris Saint-Germain

100 (0)

Tuggeranong, Woden Valley / Capital Football



SK Brann

106 (12)

Mudgeeraba / Football QLD

Australian International Player Moves/News

Australian international forward Mary Fowler moved from Montpellier in France to sign a four-year deal with Manchester City, in a massive move for her and her continuing Australian national team development. She went to the 2019 Women's World Cup as a 16-year-old—one of several questionable roster decisions that Ante Milicic made around that event (see above). She scored against the Republic of Ireland last year—who was after her to play for them when she first decided to play for Australia at the senior level. I think that was part of the reason she was capped so quickly and taken to the WWC in France.

Recently century-capped goalkeeper Lydia Williams (see above) has moved from Arsenal in England to Paris St. Germain on a one-year contract, essentially as the replacement for Canadian 2022 Olympic Games Gold Medal Winner Steph Labbe, who retired from the game this summer.

Clare Wheeler (24) has moved from Fortuna Hjorring of Denmark to Everton in the WSL. In one season in Denmark, she had 2 goals in 21 games—20 of them starts for the midfielder. She joined the Toffees on loan and is again with their new head coach Brian Sorensen (42), who won two league titles in two separate stints at Fortuna.

Defender Matilda McNamara has left Adelaide United star to join AGF in the Danish Women's League. She had three goals in 27 matches—playing in every game—for the Reds across two seasons. McNamara made her senior debut for Adelaide in 2015. Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta said, "Matilda has been a resolute presence at the back for us for a couple of seasons now and deserves this opportunity. However, as a club, we'll never stand in the way of a player looking to better themselves by moving overseas. Hopefully Matilda will still be able to play some role for us in the upcoming 2022-23 season, but we'll have a better understanding about that possibility later in the year."

From the Brisbane Roar, young midfielder Anna Margraf (21) has moved to Meppen of the German Frauen Bundesliga, after scoring 3 goals in 14 matches last season; she played the three previous seasons at Roar in a part-time role.

Fullback Polly Doran is off to English WSL2 side Crystal Palace for the 2022/23 season from Melbourne Victory. Doran was a stand-out in the Club's back-to-back Championship campaigns, and played in 42 games across three seasons for her hometown side. Doran will re-join the Victory for the 2023/24 season, signing a long-term contract with the Victory until the end of the 2024/25 season. Melbourne Victory Director of Football, John Didulica said this was a chance for Doran to test herself at an ambitious English club, "Crystal Palace is a club with whom we have built a strong working relationship and we look forward to Polly taking advantage of that. We're pleased to be able to facilitate this move for Polly, who has been one of the league's most consistent fullbacks during her time in the A-League [Women]."

Sam Kerr becomes the first female player on the global FIFA game cover

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr will be the first female player to feature on the global cover of EA Sports' FIFA football game. The Australian will be alongside Paris St-Germain and France striker Kylian Mbappe on the cover of FIFA 23. Kerr won the Golden Boot in 2021-22 as top scorer in the Women's Super League. She scored 20 WSL goals, helping Chelsea win the WSL title and FA Cup last season. Kerr won the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Association (FWA) awards for the 2021-22 campaign.

Female players have only featured on regional covers, with American Alex Morgan and Canada's Christine Sinclair alongside Argentina star Lionel Messi on the North American editions of FIFA 16, which was the first to include women's teams.

Fifa 23

EA Sports showed the cover of FIFA 23 in a social media post with Kylian Mbappe of France and Sam Kerr of Australia on the cover

New Zealand wins two September friendly internationals in California

The New Zealand Football Ferns had a successful two international games set in California in September, defeating Mexico 1-0 on September 2 in Carson and 2023 WWC Finalists Philippines 2-1 on September 6 in Fullerton—both suburbs of Los Angeles. Head coach Jitka Klimkova said that the priority for the matches was, "We need to start scoring goals." Mission accomplished against two solid teams. C.J. Bott, in her second season at Leicester City in the WSL, scored with 6 minutes to go in the win over Mexico. Then, four days later, the Filipinas took the lead through Sarina Bolden's goal at the end of the first half; Bolden plays in the WE-League in Japan with Chifure AS Elfen Saitama. In the last twenty minutes of the match, the Football Ferns fought back with goals by Meikayla Moore (Glasgow City FC—see below) from the penalty spot in the 70th minute and the decider from skipper Ali Riley—a California native who plays with Angel City FC—in the 82nd minute. Jessika Cowart of the Philippines almost tied up the match in the closing minutes but her shot hit the woodwork; Cowart played in the 2022/23 UEFA Women's Champions League with Spartak Subotica of Serbia, who loss to Brann of Norway in their Group Final. Cowart grew up in the U.S. and played at the University of Washington in Seattle. (see: The Week in Women's Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage - Part Two - Tribal Football). caught up with New Zealand international forward Gabi Rennie, who played as a second half substitute in both matches in Los Angeles. Rennie (21) has over a dozen full national team caps and played with the Football Ferns U-17 side that finished third in the 2018 U-17 FIFA Finals in Uruguay. At home she played for the Canterbury United Pride in the New Zealand Women's National League and on the Olympic Games Finals side in Japan last year.

After two years at the University of Indiana, she is in her first season at Arizona State University. She told this reporter on September 24, "The win over Mexico was awesome for us as a national team, really exciting, and then we played the Philippines and we won there as well, so they were really good results and [it was] nice to have some wins for my national team leading into the World Cup next year. It's nice to have that on top of the [ASU season]; nice and busy but good." She said that the national team coach Jitka Klimkova was excited as well with the wins and described the victories as, "nice momentum and definitely changing the way that the Ferns are looked at."

New Zealand hadn't won a game since November of 2021 when they defeated Korea Republic (2-0) in Goyang, with Rennie scoring the second goal of the game. In 2022, they previously had five losses (including against the United States, Norway and Australia twice) and two ties (Czech Republic and Wales) and this is the first time they have won two games in a calendar year since 2019, when they won four games against Argentina, Mexico, Norway and surprisingly England, in a 1-0 away victory just before the 2019 WWC Finals. We hope that New Zealand is able to build off of these two wins as they further prepare to co-host next summer's Women's World Cup. Gabi Rennie is expected to be a member of that Finals team.

Indiah-Paige Riley (20) appeared for New Zealand for the first time after switching from Australia, where she has lived and played as a teenager, after moving from her naïve Auckland. She began her professional career at Brisbane Roar, currently plies her trade in Denmark at Fortuna Hjørring which finished second in the 2021/2022 Elitedivisionen; Paige-Riley started both first round matches in the 2022-23 UEFA Women's Champions league last month as her team finished third in their group (See: The Week in Women's Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage - Part Two - Tribal Football).

In addition, midfielder Daisy Cleverley has kicked off her first professional season at HB Køge in Denmark, forward Jacqui Hand is nearing the end of her first professional season at Finnish club Åland United, while defender Meikayla Moore (Glasgow City in Scotland) and goalkeeper Victoria Esson (Glasgow Rangers in Scotland) recently made their Champions League debuts (see: The Week in Women's Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage - Tribal Football and The Week in Women's Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage - Part Two - Tribal Football).

Defender Kate Taylor has just completed a successful U-20 Women's World Cup, where she was named player of the match against Germany. Head coach Jitka Klimková, who attended the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica, said that, "Kate was one of the most experienced and more successful players at the Under-20 World Cup—her performances are worthy of the call-up." She played the last twelve minutes and final four minutes of the wins over Mexico and Philippines respectively for her third and fourth senior caps.

Ashleigh Ward (Southampton of England), Emma Rolston (MSV Duisburg of Germany) and Rebekah Stott (recently returning to Brighton and Hove Albion in England—see below) are recovering from injury, and Katie Bowen (North Carolina Courage) withdrew from the side during this international window.

Ford Football Ferns squad for September window (name; club; caps/goals)

Elizabeth Anton; Perth Glory, Australia; 10/0
Mackenzie Barry; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ; 0/0
CJ Bott; Leicester City, England; 34/1
Claudia Bunge; Melbourne Victory FC, Australia; 11/0
Olivia Chance; Celtic FC, Scotland; 32/1
Daisy Cleverley; HB Køge, Denmark; 22/2
Victoria Esson; Rangers FC, Scotland; 8/0
Ally Green; Vålerenga, Norway; 1/0
Jacqui Hand; Åland United, Finland; 8/1
Betsy Hassett; Stjarnan, Iceland; 132/14
Grace Jale; Canberra United, Australia; 7/2
Anna Leat; Aston Villa FC, England; 7/0
Annalie Longo; Christchurch United, NZ; 126/15
Meikayla Moore; Glasgow City FC, Scotland; 55/3
Erin Nayler; Umeå IK, Sweden; 77/0
Gabi Rennie; Arizona State University, USA; 14/2
Ali Riley; Angel City FC, USA; 145/1
Indiah-Paige Riley; Fortuna Hjørring, Denmark 0/0*
Paige Satchell; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ; 30/2
Malia Steinmetz; Western Sydney Wanderers, Australia; 9/0
Kate Taylor; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ; 2/0
Hannah Wilkinson; Melbourne City FC, Australia; 107/27

* First Ford Football Ferns call-up

Note: Sarina Bolden netted two goals as the Philippine Women's National Team defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3-0, in their friendly match on June 23 at the Matija Gubec Stadium in Krsko, Slovenia. Philippines then won a second match against Bosnia and Herzegovina—who have qualified for the UEFA WWC Qualifying playoffs this month—

(2-1) three days later, as the Filipinas continued their preparations for the AFF Women's Championship 2022 which was held in Manila July 4-17. 2022. We will review this important Asian tournament in an upcoming column.

New Zealand International Player Moves

In addition to the Football Ferns moves to the A-League Women (see above), other New Zealand players switched clubs during the summer transfer window, including international goalkeeper Anna Leat (21—who played collegiately at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.); she was released by West Ham United and has signed for Aston Villa. She played in four games for the Hammers last season.

New Zealand international defender Meikayla Moore helped Liverpool to promotion to the WSL in 2021-22 but was released and signed with Glasgow City in Scotland.

Defender Rebekah Stott returned to Melbourne City for the 2021-22 season after having to leave Brighton and Hove Albion in England in March 2021 due to a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Thankfully, her cancer had gone into remission. After playing for FC Bulleen Lions recently at the state level in Australia and last winter with Melbourne City in the A-League Women, she has rejoined Brighton in England.

New Zealand youth international midfielder Maya Hahn, after graduating from the University of Oregon, signed with Turbine Potsdam of Germany. She previously played with Meppen in the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2020-21, appearing in 20 games before joining the Oregon Ducks. She was a star of New Zealand's third place side in the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2018 in Uruguay.

New Zealand youth international Maya Hahn is back playing in Germany after signing with Turbine Potsdam. Photo courtesy New Zealand Football Federation.

Maya Hahn talked about her move to Potsdam, "It has always been my dream to play in Europe, but in a club as successful and steeped in tradition as Turbine Potsdam, this is of course something very special. I'm excited to see how I develop with coach Sofian Chahed and the team. I am looking forward to achieving goals together with the team and winning games." Head coach Sofian Chahed (39)—who is entering his third year as head coach and was a defender in his playing days, primarily with Hertha Berlin and Hannover, and was capped by Germany at the youth level and Tunisia at the full level—is also pleased with her signing: "Maya is a young and talented player who first has to get used to the pace of the first [Frauen] Bundesligaand the training intensity, but will certainly play an important role after a hopefully short adjustment phase."

New Zealand U-20 WWC Results

New Zealand's U-20 side finished fourth in Group B with two points at the Finals this summer in Costa Rica, tying Mexico (1-1) and Colombia (2-2) but falling to Germany 3-0. They had two players on their roster from universities in the U.S. and one—goalkeeper Brianne Edwards—who plays in Australia with Bankstown City Lions in Sefton (Suburban Sydney), New South Wales.

Australia U-20 Results

Australia competed in the U-20 Women's World Cup Finals in Costa Rica for the first time in 16 years. Their head coach, Leah Blayney, was a member of that squad as a player.

Of the 21 players selected, 17 spent time in the ALW last season across all ten 10 clubs: Adelaide United (2), Brisbane Roar (1), Canberra United (1), Melbourne City (2), Melbourne Victory (1), Newcastle Jets (1), Perth Glory (1), Sydney FC (4), Wellington Phoenix (1) and Western Sydney Wanderers (3).

Defender Greta Kraszula plays in the States at Virginia Commonwealth University and spent this past summer with Indy [Indianapolis] Eleven of the USL W-League.

Australia fell in the first round in Group A, finishing third on 3 points with losses to Brazil (2-0), ultimate tournament winners Spain (3-0), but opening with a win over host nation Costa Rica 3-1, but Costa Rica took an early lead through a stunning bomb of a free kick goal by Alexandra Pinell (19—LD Alajuelense) in the 19th minute

Australia 2022 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Roster in Costa Rica





Junior Club /

Member Fed




Blacktown Spartans

Majura FC /

Capital Football


Charlize RULE


Sydney Olympic FC

Queens Park /

Football NSW




Blacktown Spartans on loan from Melbourne City FC

NTC Victoria /

Football Victoria




Northern Tigers

Raiders FC /

Football SA


Jamilla RANKIN


Blacktown Spartans

Eureka FC / Northern NSW Football




APIA Leichhardt on loan from Sydney FC

Northbridge FC /

Football NSW


Bryleeh HENRY


Blacktown Spartans

Penrith FC /

Football NSW




Blacktown Spartans on loan from Perth Glory

Cockburn City SC / Football West


Cushla RUE


Sydney University FC

Western Mariners/ Football NSW


Daniela GALIC


Football NSW Institute

Lidcombe Waratahs / Football NSW




Manly United FC

Manly United/

Football NSW




FV Emerging Matildas

Melville City FC / Football West




Football NSW Institute

Shellharbour Junior Football Club /

Football NSW


Paige ZOIS


Bulleen Lions on loan from Melbourne Victory

Northcote FC / Football Victoria




Football NSW Institute

Forest Rangers/ Football NSW


Jessika NASH


Blacktown Spartans

Doonside Hawks / Football NSW




Illawarra Stingrays

Illawarra Stingrays / Football NSW




Canberra United Academy

The Armidale School / Capital Football



Midfielder / Defender

VCU Athletics

NWS Koalas /

Football NSW




NWS Koalas

Toronto Awaba /

Northern NSW Football




Blacktown Spartans

Blacktown Spartans / Football NSW

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get yours copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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