Around the grounds: club legend returns to Wanderland, Victory re-sign duo

Western Sydney Wanderers have added to their already star-studded coaching group with the recruitment of former A-League Goalkeeper of the Year Ante Covic as goalkeeper coach for the 2020/21 Westfield W-League campaign.

Covic joins the Red and Black under Head Coach Dean Heffernan, and alongside fellow Wanderers legends Michael Beauchamp and Catherine Cannuli in the Wanderers’ coaching ranks.

A foundation player with the Wanderers under Tony Popovic in the club’s inaugural A-League campaign in 2012/13, Covic featured a club-record 97 times in all competitions in his three seasons with the Red and Black.

The 45-year-old’s outstanding accomplishments at the club include securing the 2012/13 A-League Goalkeeper of the Year and Premiers’ Plate, to go with being named the Asian Football Confederation Champions League Most Valuable Player in the Wanderers’ road to an historic AFC Champions League title in 2014. 

Ante Covic

Upon his return to the club Covic said he’s got a lot to give in his new role, as he hopes to help the club’s Westfield W-League side to similar levels of success he achieved in his time playing for the Red and Black in the A-League.

“It feels good to be back on a few levels,” Covic told the club website.

“The history I was part of for the first three years at the Wanderers, the memories and achievements can never be taken away.

“I’m coming back to a club that I loved and I’ve had a lot of good times at.

“Since I’ve retired from playing professionally, I went into coaching straight afterwards.

“It was something that I always had a focus in doing and after 20 years as a goalkeeper, I have learnt a lot and have a lot to give.

“(The role) is an opportunity I am savouring as obviously the women’s game is growing and the recent success of the Wanderers last year in the W-League. 

“I want to be part of that success and hopefully we can go a little bit further this year. It’s really exciting and it’s back to a professional environment, so it’s great the girls have got that opportunity in a facility like this with the coaching staff that have been there and done that.”

Victory re-sign two key players in two days

After announcing young striker Melina Ayres had re-signed with the club ahead of the 2020/21 Westfield W-League season on Wednesday, Melbourne Victory were back at it the very next day with news of Amy Jackson’s contract renewal.

Jackson, 33, stunned the league with a left-footed rocket against Perth Glory which secured her the 2019/20 Westfield W-League Goal of the Year.

Victory Head Coach Jeff Hopkins told the club website Jackson’s experience and understanding of club culture makes her an integral part of Victory’s squad for the 2020/21 Westfield W-League season.

“It’s fantastic to have Amy re-commit to the club this season,” Hopkins said. 

“Amy has a wealth of playing experience behind her, she understands the club and the culture we are building, and is invested in driving this team forward. 

“She is such an important member of our midfield group and she’s proven she can be extremely dangerous in front of goal.

“We are putting in the work to build on the foundations we’ve established over the past two seasons together. The squad is really focused on taking the next step and we are looking forward to the season starting on December 27.”

Another piece in Victory’s squad puzzle is 21-year-old striker Melina Ayres, who re-signed a new deal which will keep her at the club until the end of the 2022/23 season.

Ayres made 13 appearances for Hopkins’ side last season, scoring three goals.

“It is great to commit to the club for the next three years,” Ayres said.

“I love playing here and I can’t wait for the opportunity to play in front of the Victory members and fans again.  

“To continue to improve and reach my potential I need to continue to work hard and perform well. I know that I’m best placed to do this at Melbourne Victory with the support of the coaching group with which I have formed a strong relationship.”

Meline Ayres

 Former Roar Raso set to make history at Wembley Stadium

Westfield Matildas and former Brisbane Roar striker Hayley Raso could become the first Australian woman to play in a Women’s FA Cup Final when her English outfit Everton face Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on Monday morning (AEDT). 

Raso departed Brisbane to join FA Women’s Super League outfit Everton in January 2020, midway through the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

And now, with her side facing the current title-holders, Raso has the chance to clinch silverware at one of the most famous sporting arenas in the world.

If Raso is selected for the title decider she’ll join Joe Marston, Craig Johnston, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mile Jedinak as the only Australian’s to have stepped out on Wembley’s hallowed turf in a professional fixture. 

Hayley Raso