Podcast view: Why a ‘record-breaking’ opening night beckons, with all eyes on a Matilda

On the latest episode of The Official Isuzu UTE A-League Podcast, KEEPUP’s James Dodd and David Davutovic unpack the A-Leagues schedules, go over which teams may flourish and flounder, and gave a way too early prediction for both leagues. Listen where ever you get your podcasts!

We are only weeks away from the commencement of the biggest Liberty A-League season to date, and the headline act of the opening round couldn’t be any bigger.

After winning the Premiership-Championship double last season, Sydney FC will welcome Western Sydney Wanderers to Allianz Stadium on October 14, where a big crowd is expected to descend upon Moore Park for their season opener.

Those in attendance will also welcome one of their Matildas heroes from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad in Cortnee Vine, who recently re-signed for another campaign.

Vine wrote her name into the nation’s sporting folklore by scoring the decisive spot-kick in the Australia’s penalty shoo-tout victory over France in the quarter-finals, ensuring the Matildas would be the first senior national team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.

As a result, her levels of stardom have soared ahead of the upcoming season and her opening game of the new season couldn’t be scripted any better.

Listen below, or via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you consume your podcasts

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“There are going to be more Cortnee Vine jerseys in that stadium than any other,” KEEPUP’s James Dodd said on The Official Isuzu UTE A-League Podcast.

“This is just going to be, I dare say, a record-breaking game… I think that’s the way it’s shaping at the moment.

“There is no better way to kick-off this season on that opening weekend than having a game like this, that both clubs and the supporters deserve at a stadium like that… Under the lights, this just feels special.”

KEEPUP’s David Davutovic responded: “I hope people get behind it and I’ve got no doubt they will. I mean, the Liberty A-League crowd record will be broken. It’s just a case of how many we get there.

“It would be great to see 20,000, 25,000, 30,000 in that stadium and why not?

“Yes, Sydney FC have lost a few players, but when you look at some of their recent signings, they’re still going to be really, really rock solid. Great to see them win the title last season. They’re also breaking membership records.

“Cortnee (Vine) obviously will be leading the charge, but Jada Whyman, Charlotte McLean, Tegan Collister, among others are still there, the Dos Santos sisters. There’s a lot to like about the Sydney FC team.”

A-Leagues officials hope the opening round will break domestic attendance records off the back of the success of the Women’s World Cup – serving as a standalone celebration of women’s football.

Matches have been moved to bigger stadiums to encourage more fans to come along to the opening round, while clubs such as Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have already reached impressive membership milestones, showcasing the groundswell of support as a result of the World Cup’s success.

Meanwhile, players such as Vine have become household names as a result of their success on the world stage, akin to Isuzu UTE A-League stats Craig Goodwin and Mathew Leckie, who also had memorable moments at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup with the Socceroos.

“It would just be great to see Cortnee Vine walk out there, almost like what happened with the Socceroos boys,” Davutovic said.

“When (Craig) Goodwin and (Mathew) Leckie came back from the World Cup and did what they did, everyone just viewed them in a different light, and it’ll be the same with Cortnee Vine.

“It’s the same old Cortnee Vine that was running out last season and the last five or six years, but all of a sudden, we just view her in a different light because of that moment.”

WOMEN’S FOOTBALL CELEBRATION: A-Leagues announce special Round One celebration for women’s football, aiming to break records
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TALKING POINTS: FULL A-Leagues fixtures released – What you need to know & key talking points

Air of positivity around Glory

The 2023-24 campaign will be the beginning of a new era at Perth Glory.

Former Matildas and Philippines head coach Alen Stajcic will take the reins of the club’s Isuzu UTE A-League outfit this season, a signing which has been met with a groundswell of support given his work at international level in women’s football and in the A-League Men with Central Coast Mariners.

Stajcic is no stranger to getting the best out of the sum of his parts, leading Filipinas to a historic first ever Women’s World Cup victory over New Zealand in July and also taking the Mariners back to the finals for the first time in seven years in the 2020-21 season.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership, Davutovic said Stajcic’s appointment has helped lift the spirits at the club ahead of the season getting underway in October.

READ: Stajcic flips Perth theory ‘everyone talks about’ in fascinating first press conference

“There’s been a real groundswell of positivity over in Perth off the back of Stajcic’s signing,” Davutovic said.

“There’s obviously been some issues at the club, particularly last season. There will be new owners in Perth, probably over the next few months, for the start of the season and signing Alan Stajcic has just brought some positivity and stability to the place which has been really important.”

Davutovic believes there’s plenty of positive signs on the pitch as well, believing there’s every chance they could return to the finals for the first time since 2020.

“I was down there watching the Glory v West Ham game and look they conceded a few goals, but there was a lot to like about that team,” he said.

“They’re giving some youngsters an opportunity, headlined by Daniel Bennie who again was a really good performer for the Joeys not so long ago.

“All of a sudden you saw Stajcic what he did with the Mariners. He wasn’t scared to give the youngsters a go. There’s still a decent core of senior players. Adam Taggart’s still there at this stage.

“Glory, I think, have got the capabilities of being a top six side and if you can get the crowd behind them, they’re back at HBF Park this season. We love Macedonia Park, but HBF Park’s a proper (football stadium).

“You get a bit of excitement, you get some results, get the local boys playing, I think the crowds could come back to Perth Glory. Exciting to see what happens there.”

Way too early predictions!

Although the season is still around two months away, the Official Isuzu UTE A-League Podcast crew had a crack at their bold predictions for the A-Leagues season.

Here’s what both David Davutovic and James Dodd think will happen in both the A-League Men’s and Women’s seasons in 2023-24.

Davutovic’s Liberty A-League prediction: “Cortnee Vine stepping up in the opening game of the season and scoring a hat-trick of penalties to send a capacity Allianz Stadium crowd into raptures and the roof coming off!”

Dodd’s Liberty A-League prediction: “Tameka Yallop will be the Player of the Season next year and she will fire Brisbane Roar deep into finals contention.”

Davutovic’s Isuzu UTE A-League prediction: “Melbourne Victory winning the title this season and the title in an absolute canter!”

Dodd’s Isuzu UTE A-League prediction: “They’re going to hate me for saying this. I think Central Coast Mariners missed the finals. Sorry Monty!”