26/02/2024

Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic. (Photo Credit: Melbourne City)

After a less-than-ideal end to last season, Melbourne City will be looking to get back to winning ways in the A-League Women, and will experience an away trip no other side has had to go through yet first up as Rado Vidosic’s side travel to Wellington in round one.

For the home side, they are hoping to get at least 10,000 fans there for the first-ever game the Wellington Phoenix Women’s side will play in New Zealand, after spending the inaugural season based out of Wollongong.

For some of these players, it will be the first time they have played in front of a crowd of that size. However, Vidosic doesn’t think the crowd will play as much of an impact as it might appear to on paper.

“When you’re playing in front of a big home crowd, it’s more pressure on you. Some of our girls, obviously, played at the World Cup in front of 22,000 in Costa Rica and they did really well,” Vidosic said.

“It’s not that they have never faced anything like that, but I think the pressure is equal.

“I don’t think that the players will have that on their mind when they go out to play. Like last season when we played against Sydney in the semi-final it was a big crowd over there as well.

“So, you know [a] big stadium, it won’t look as big [of a] crowd as maybe it is going to be.

“We’ve got a lot of experienced girls. They’re going to help our younger, less experienced girls if there are any problems.”

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One of those players who has that experience in Costa Rica with the Young Matildas is new recruit Bryleeh Henry, who moved from the Western Sydney Wanderers at the end of last season.

Henry is a player that Vidosic has had his eyes on for a while.

“Well, we tried to bring her in a few years ago but she decided to stay at Western Sydney and then this year when her contract was up she reached out and it was very easy to bring her in here,” Vidosic said.

“We worked together for the World Cup but as I said, the approach was made before. She wasn’t ready to come to Melbourne but this time around she was and she’s doing really well.

“I can’t wait to see how she’s going to go in the game on Sunday.”

Could Melbourne City spoil the homecoming for Wellington and walk away with all three points?

“I worked in Wellington and to see them have the female team and they were really, I won’t say punished, but they were in a bad situation last year and had to spend all this season away from home,” Vidosic said.

“They’ve done a miracle job and I’m so proud of them so hopefully it’s going to be a great game and the best team will win.”

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One of the biggest changes to how the A-League Women season will operate is the extended competition as we get closer to a full home and away season in 2023/24.

But does the extended competition change the way that teams will approach the season?

“It doesn’t change a lot,” Vidosic said when asked that question.

“What it just allows you is players like Karly [Rostbakken] and Emma Checker, they don’t have to be rushed in to start the season because if you had 12 games and they’re going to miss three or four, you know it’s one quarter or one-third of the season so that’s not smart.

“But this allows you to have some breaks between the rounds with FIFA breaks so you get like a week or two where you can work on different things. You can change a few things, you can top up players and all that stuff.

“I think it’s going to be a good way for all the coaches to see what that brings and how we’re going to deal with that, we’ll probably find out throughout the season.”

One of the things that the A-Leagues and the broadcaster have implemented to make the league more accessible is every game being made available for free via 10play every week, as well as the creation of a new show called Dub Zone, which will be an interactive show with the viewers and take a look at all the simultaneous kick-offs on a Saturday afternoon.

For Vidosic, it’s something that fills him with a bit of excitement.

“That [Dub Zone] gives you opportunities just to enjoy and you know, somewhere inside Australian borders, someone will score a goal and they’re going to scream ‘GOAL’ and then you don’t know where this goal is being scored so I think that’s going to bring excitement to our public,” he said.

“But if someone would like to focus on one specific game they have this option, but I can’t wait to see Dub Zone, to be honest.

“I love watching Champions League in their zone, so I think Dub Zone is going to be smashing, [and] I can’t wait to see that.”

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