After one month of the Liberty A-League season, the first votes are in for the newly-established Liberty Next Gen Tracker, keeping tabs on the ones to watch aged 21 or under!
The brand-new award is voted on every month by the Dub Zone panel in the Liberty A-League and the Official Isuzu UTE A-League podcast in the Isuzu UTE A-League, with five players aged under 21 at the start of the season earning votes for their performance, with five given to the top-voted rising star, down to one vote for the fifth-ranked player, thanks to Liberty.
With the first lot of votes cast for the season, watch below as the Dub Zone expert panel hosted by Niav Owens and featuring commentator Teo Pellizzeri, A-Leagues legend Grace Gill and Sydney FC captain Natalie Tobin, unpack the five selections from the Liberty A-League to date – with Melbourne City star Holly McNamara leading the way on five votes.
5 votes: Holly McNamara (Melbourne City)
Holly McNamara roared up the voting charts in Round 4 thanks to a perfect hat-trick consisting of one left-footed goal, one right-footed, and one header in Melbourne City’s 4-3 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.
“It wasn’t just a hat-trick, it’s the way in which she does it as well,” Gill said.
“Her quality behind her finishes, we talk about how dangerous she is with the ball at her feet, running at pace against the opposition.
“She moves the ball so quickly into space to get a shot away, and she just continues to be such a threat for Melbourne City. She’s so much fun to watch.”
4 votes: Vesna Milivojevic (Canberra United)
Canberra United’s 21-year-old Serbian international has started the season like a house on fire, scoring three goals and assisting one more as a leader in Canberra’s attack.
“People when they watch Vesna Milivojevic may not realise that, because she plays with such a seniority, such an attitude, that she is still a young player with at least a decade (we hope) of her career ahead of her,” said Pellizzeri.
“Yes, she’s capped for Serbia so we’re not ever going to see her play for the Matildas. But this is someone who could potentially win the Golden Boot or the Dolan Medal this year.”
3 votes: Macey Fraser (Wellington Phoenix)
A sensational free-kick in Round 4 took Phoenix midfielder Macey Fraser to new heights in her debut Liberty A-league season. The Wellington academy product is making waves as a senior ‘Nix contributor and has two goals on the board already this season.
“Macey Fraser is a player that stepped up in a really big way,” said Gill.
“She’s been working under Paul Temple, the new coach, in the academy for three years. Now she steps into A-Leagues football and has the confidence, as a young player under a coach who has said: ‘You have got this opportunity, and I support you’.”
2 votes: Kahli Johnson (Western United)
Having watched Kahli Johnson rise through the ranks at Sydney FC, her former captain Natalie Tobin is perfectly placed to speak about the talented Young Matildas star.
Johnson has one stunning goal to her name so far this season.
“Kahli Johnson really stands out for me,” Tobin said.
“I played with her at Sydney and definitely showed potential when she was there. She made the jump to Western United and has just shown how much of a threat she is.
“She put an absolute pearler of a goal away (in Round 3) against City, and I think she’s just such a threat. You can see the defenders don’t know which way she’s going to go.”
1 vote: Georgia Cassidy (Perth Glory)
A vote in the first month of the Next Gen Tracker polling and a Young Footballer of the Year nomination to boot – Perth Glory midfielder Georgia Cassidy is enjoying an incredible start to life in the Liberty A-League.
The Junior Matildas talent is highly-rated in Australian footballing circles and it’s clear to see why after four consecutive starts in the heart of midfield for Perth to start the season.
“I’ve been really impressed by Georgia Cassidy,” said Gill.
“She’s 18 years old, she’s come in and trained with Perth last year as a train-on with the squad, so she’s familiar with the environment, familiar with (head coach) Alex Epakis.
“As a young kid coming into that midfield, she’s had four starts this season and is someone who I’ve watched and gone: ‘Wow, you just look really in place, you look really comfortable’. So I’m really looking forward to seeing what she’ll do for the rest of the season.”