W-League | Canberra United raring to go

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Canberra United are hoping their delayed start to the season will have a positive effect as the squad prepares its title challenge.

United were confined to the sidelines as the ninth edition of the Westfield W-League kicked off in spectacular fashion last weekend.

Record crowds and goals galore highlighted an opening weekend that promises an exhilarating season ahead.

Instead of impatiently twiddling their thumbs, Canberra coach Rae Downer said the first-up bye provides an opportunity.

“Having a ‘bo peep’ at the other teams will provide a bit of an insight of course, but primarily we’re concentrating on ourselves so it will give us another week together to gel on the training park,” Dower said at United’s season launch.

“With such a short season the chance to have the first round off and go straight through week to week I think will be good, we won’t have a momentum stall like in previous seasons.”

That advantage could make all the difference as the women in green square off against reigning champions Melbourne City to open their campaign.

Instead of the occasion getting the better of United, Dower says the team is keeping it simple.

“Every game we have to treat as an individual game and to try to win that game and if we can do that and get those wins along the way throughout the season then we’ll put ourselves in a really good position.”

Much of the spotlight will be on United’s star recruit, Japanese international Yukari Kinga.

Primarily a defensive midfielder, Kinga had a century of caps for her country and will bring experience to a young Canberra side.

Speaking on Thursday, Kinga kept no secrets when asked about her ambitions for the side, stating she wanted the “team to be champions” and that she was “very happy to be playing in the W-League.”

In addition to Kinga’s arrival, it was announced that Michelle Hayman would take on a vice-captain position, taking some of the pressure off Ellie Brush.

Dower said Hayman’s recent Matildas experiences, including an Olympics campaign, had had a transformative effect on striker.

“Michelle Hayman’s come back a really mature player. She’s actually relishing that time in her life and career where she actually wants to take on further leadership roles.”

It’s this youth bolsted by a formidable dash of experience that could have Canberra primed for yet another title challenge.

Fans can head down to Canberra Stadium at 3pm to watch United before enjoying the Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix clash in the A-League.

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Dominic Unwin
Third year Sports Media student at the University of Canberra. Interests include sports history and stats...you know, all the fun stuff.

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