The next generation is rolling in. The following players are all born in the noughties (gee that’s enough to make anyone feel old), have caught my eye at some point and will hopefully blossom beautifully this season. I’ve loved watching the Young Matildas and Junior Matildas over the last few months, so it seems only fitting to have a look at a few players who could easily mark this season as their own.
I’m always hesitant to write these types of articles. I will ALWAYS miss a good player [or ten]. However there’s significance in talking about players individually. So here goes.
Kyra Cooney-Cross – Western Sydney Wanderers
There’s been little doubt, more time on the park for Cooney-Cross leads to more magic on the park. We’ve seen her tear up the pitch from the wing, with a knack for an impressive goal. For the Young Matildas, Cooney-Cross has demonstrated her flexibility by playing at defensive midfield. Her composure, ability to pick a pass and hunger to win the ball was on display for all against Vietnam. Finding herself at a new club this season in the Wanderers will hopefully see her tear the park up in West Sydney.
Hollie Palmer – Brisbane Roar
For the midfielder it was a break-out season last year in the absence of Katrina Gorry at the tail end. Palmer may have to fight for a spot against establish Matildas who have returned to the club this season, but be sure, she’s going to make an impact. A player who can really pull the strings at number ten, give her the ball and she’ll make things happen. Don’t let her size fool you, she’s a fighter and won’t be knocked off the ball easily. Her vision to find nifty passes will leave you drooling, and she’ll only do better with some masters of the game to learn from in Yallop, Kellond-Knight and Gorry.
Shadeene Evans – Sydney FC
Ok, I’m normally hesitant to get hyped about a player who I know more of her back story than what I’ve watched on the pitch. But, I finally understood after watching Evans against Thailand. Technically there’s room for improvement, however there’s one thing Evans has in abundance that can’t be taught easily, that’s hunger. Evans has a hunger to win the ball. In a squad who love to press high as Sydney FC on the pitch, Evans is a player who will provide the energy and guts to win the ball back at whatever cost. Some minutes off the bench to torment tired defenders? This could be a masterstroke for Sydney FC if implemented.
Chelsea Blissett – Melbourne City
Looking beyond a straight red card in one of the early rounds last season, Blissett was a find and a half last time out. Absolutely unfazed at being thrown into the deep end, the defender has continually stood tall across the back four. There’s been additions to the City defensive line that may seem on paper to have pushed the youngster further down the pecking order, but football’s a funny game and Blissett will be pushing hard to secure a starting spot. She’s comfortable on the ball, reads the play well and very strong in the tackle, but it’s her ability to play anywhere across the back four that will prove most handy this W-League season.
Mary Fowler – Adelaide United
Your eyes have to light up at the idea of Mary Fowler playing in the W-League. The youngster has composure for days, strength on the ball and yes composure for days. In a field of gun-shy forwards, Fowler breaks that mould. She will always seek an opportunity to shape up for a shot and will pull the trigger with an uncanny ability to find a bottom corner. Sometimes centre forwards can be frustrated isolated up top with little service, but Fowler doesn’t appear to be that type of player. Rather she’s shown patience in waiting for the once chance to happen and break a deadlock.
Karly Roestbakken – Canberra United
Looking for a composed player on the ball, wonderful decision maker and quick to make a last minute crucial challenge, look no further. Making fullback her home last season, don’t be surprised if Roestbakken is provided the opportunity to pull the strings a bit in the centre. She’s looked comfortable leading the Young Matildas from centre back, and equally has the qualities to play further up the park. Her ability to attack space with the ball at her feet sets her apart from many players, which oozes an uncanny similarity to Alanna Kennedy.
Courtney Nevin – Western Sydney Wanderers
All the love must go to left footed defenders. Nevin is one of the good left footed defenders. Securing left back for the Wanderers last season, competing with ease in a defence that were under the cosh most of the time, expect more of the same. Even in a side who are securing some international superstars, expect Nevin to consistently perform and be a vital cog for a side looking to break into the top four. What she lacks for in pace, she makes up for in her positioning and her beautiful left foot. Nevin can pass, create and score beauties with it. Enjoy.
Nia Stamatopolous – Melbourne City
A player who loves to have time on the ball and can pull the strings at the top of the midfield like a puppeteer. Stamatopolous has composure for days. It’s easy to forget how young she is, given the midfielder has already played a part in two campaigns for City. The 16 year old will once again have the opportunity to learn the craft of brilliant midfielders from the best, this time round in Emily Van Egmond and Yukari Kinga. Expect massive things in the future from this player.
Leticia McKenna – Perth Glory
The biggest challenge for McKenna this season? To prove she isn’t a one season wonder. Last season she proved how good she is. With a massive engine, she charged around Perth’s midfield and more than held her own, in fact she excelled consistently. When on song, McKenna is able to produce support for the front line, with a bucket load of confidence.
Tessa Tamplin – Newcastle Jets
A pacey fullback, who can ignite things moving forward and tuck in to defend when needed. Like a lot of young fullbacks, Tamplin has pace to burn. Thrown in the deep end last season due to injury, the right back still found a way to swim in a composed backline. Tamplin will stick to whatever line the Jets employ. She’s also capable of a cracking goal if space is left out in the pockets.
COULDA EASILY FIT IN THE TOP TEN
Mackenzie Hawkesby, the stage is set after a double in preseason and stand out in the NSW NPLW. Charlotte Grant, a pacey full back, who can provide a spark when pushing forward, can be a real game changer. Susan Phonsongkham, pace and skills on the flank, with a hunger to attack and a stunning NSW NPLW season to boot from all reports. Princess Ibini, again a hungry forward for Sydney FC, she seems to pull out good form right when it’s needed. India-Paige Riley, popped up in the right moments with goals for Brisbane Roar last season, expect more from the forward. Ciara Fowler, could hold the key to Adelaide’s midfield with an array of passing in her arsenal.
BONUS – Sign them up Freddy
Outside of Stamatopolous remaining at Melbourne City, there hasn’t been any sign of more Junior Matildas joining W-League clubs this season. So here’s just three predictions that should occur and why. Easily more players could be added to this, but my notes are scattered and these are the moves that would make the most sense to me to occur immediately.
Claudia Mihocic to Victory
The Victorian needs to be signed up simple. Her performance with the Junior Tillies was enough to seal a spot, plus a start against Thailand, for the Young Matildas. Finding a centre back who is calm on the ball, deadly in the tackle and can also play at holding midfield is rare. Recently we really failed to develop these types of players, so I would love to see Mihocic arrive to Victory and learn from the likes of Alleway, McCormick and Menges. Imagine the possibilities.
(Side note, City would be cool too, but I really hope Victory sign her up)
Hana Lowry and Miranda Templeman to Perth
There’s no doubt Lowry will be the next superstar out of Western Australia. Heck she already is. With an ability to play anywhere across the attack, Perth would be mad to deny themselves the left-footer. As for Templeman, she’s a gun goalkeeper. Pulling out top notch saves seems comfortable for Templeman. An opportunity to develop under Campbell would be excellent. Templeman would just as comfortably step up to the plate if called upon in the W-League.