The new arrivals in the A-League Women competition bring more than just an extra team to the competition.
They have assembled a squad made up of some of New Zealand and Australia’s best young players. Wellington Phoenix is led by an attack-minded coach and they will be eager to make an impact in their debut season.
Wellington is starting from scratch, and inaugural manager Gemma Lewis has had the opportunity to fill her squad with the type of players she wants.
The possibilities are exciting, although not limitless. One of the conditions of the Phoenix’s entry into the competition is that they must have a minimum of seven Australian players in the squad.
Wellington will share its coaching staff with the New Zealand Football Federation. Both Lewis and her assistant Natalie Lawrence are managers of the Under-20 national team.
Utilising her experience, Lewis has assembled an exciting and youth-focused team. But recruiting began with one of the A-League Women’s best performers of last season.
Lily Alfeld was announced as Wellington’s first signing in its history as a women’s club.
This was a brilliant move by Wellington in every way.
Alfeld is a New Zealander, was in amazing form last season, and is accustomed to playing with an inexperienced team.
With Perth Glory, she was one of the best-performed goalkeepers in the competition. She played every minute of the season and made a league-high 53 saves.
She was nominated for the Player Of The Month in December/January and made the save of the week in consecutive rounds.
Alfeld was both a steady presence and a spectacular player for Perth in a difficult season for the club.
The Phoenix have signed one of the best goalkeepers in the competition at the peak of her powers. She seems perfect for the A-League’s newest women’s team and will provide the fans with confidence and entertainment.
Nobody has left Wellington Phoenix but Paige Satchell might be considered as one that got away.
As far as New Zealand-born attackers go, she is one of the best. Sydney FC has snared the Football Fern after she departed Canberra.
Satchell would have brought pace, firepower, and significant experience to the squad. There is no indication that Lewis pursued the Olympian or had any intention to, but it was a surprise that she was not linked with the club.
More A-League Women Season Previews:
What to expect:
These are exciting times for Wellington Phoenix, the A-Leagues, and for New Zealand football. This is the first professional women’s sporting club in the country’s history and with a World Cup fast approaching, the arrival of the Phoenix could not be better timed.
Gemma Lewis is a coach that loves attacking football. She sets up her youth teams in a 4-3-3 formation and they dominate possession.
She has signed some of the brightest young talents on either side of the Tasman. This will be a season of development and for many of these players, this will be their first season of senior football.
However, most have experience at NPLW level or as youth internationals. Recent signing Jordan Jasnos represented Australia and scored in the Under 16 AFC championships in 2019.
Expect an exciting season. These players will be without fear and will be eager to forge their reputations at the highest level.
A World Cup on home soil in just over a year will be a huge enticement. Any players ready to prove themselves will be aware that the national team coaches are watching.
Regarding results, expectations should be tempered. Wellington is playing and living away from home. All of its home games will be at Woolongong, and the players will be without home support.
However, this will be an exciting season. Lewis will set her team up to play attacking adventurous football, and the players will take every opportunity that comes to them.
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