2013 trip that ‘put Sam Kerr on the map for Chelsea’ almost didn’t happen: Dub Zone Talking Points

WATCH: This week's Dub Zone episode dissects Round 3 of the Liberty A-League & features a trip down memory lane.

These are the key talking points from the third episode of Dub Zone, dissecting all the action from a blockbuster Round 3 of the 2023/24 Liberty A-League season.

Liberty A-League action returned following the international break and the third round delivered plenty more historic moments.

Perth Glory maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-2 win over Canberra United, in front of a record crowd of 2,229 at McKellar Park.

Melbourne City also continued their fine form as 20-year-old Holly McNamara emerged as a standout performer once more in the 2-2 draw against Western United.

Liberty A-League fans also got to witness Western Sydney Wanderers prospect Ischia Brooking become the youngest player in A-Leagues history – surpassing her teammate Talia Younis who broke the record just a week ago.

While the reigning Champions Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners weren’t in action, there’s plenty of excitement building around the Sky Blues’ first appearance in the AFC Women’s Club Championship.

Here are all the major talking points the Dub Zone crew dissected!


‘It’s arguably what put Sam Kerr on the map for Chelsea’

As Sydney FC gear up for the AFC Women’s Club Championship in Uzbekistan, Sky Blues legend Tersea Polias reminisced on the last time the club competed overseas. 

Under the guidance of Alen Stajcic, Sydney FC headed into the 2013 International Women’s Club Championship off the back of winning the 2012-13 A-League Women’s championship. 

They ventured abroad with a star-studded squad headlined by the likes of England international Jodie Taylor, future Australia cricket star Ellyse Perry, Chloe Lorgazo, Casey Dumont, Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr, many of whom were in the formative years of their careers. 

Sydney went up against Women’s Super League giants Chelsea, South America’s Colo Colo, Japan’s INAC Kobe Leonessa and NTV Beleza, who finished second in the Japanese division.  

Polias, who was also a member of the team, reflected on the significance of the overseas trip on this week’s episode of Dub Zone.

“I remember the preparation that was put in to play against these teams was crazy,” she said.

“As the holding midfielder, I remember being marshalled every session by Alen Stajcic. It was a great experience.

“It’s arguably what put Sam Kerr on the map for Chelsea as well.

“(Chelsea) were there and we ended up playing against them. Emma Hayes was the coach then I’m pretty sure.” 

While Ante Juric’s side head into the tournament with Australian women’s football riding a wave of momentum from the Women’s World Cup, Polias reflected on how the circumstances have changed significantly from 10 years ago, particularly from a financial standpoint.  

“I remember it almost didn’t even happen,” she said.

“The lack of resources back then and funding and we had to get really creative selling boots, jerseys, player experiences and game day experiences so it was wild.”

The 20-year-old ‘ascending toward the peak of her powers’ that every young kid must watch

All aboard the Holly McNamara hype train. 

The talented Melbourne City attacker continues to set the Liberty A-League alight and her performance in the 2-2 draw against Western United was just another example. 

McNamara posed a constant threat and was rewarded for her efforts as her stunning goal was enough to break down Western’s stubborn low block, while also bagging an assist. 

“She’s so fantastic, you can see that she can score absolutely amazing goals,” former Western Sydney Wanderers boss Catherine Cannuli said. 

“But she’s also an assist queen. She’s not selfish when she gets in front of goal. She understands her role and what she does for this team.

“I’m just so excited to see her back in our league and just really wish her a fantastic A-Leagues season because she’s a star of this league and a star of the future for Australia.”

Just a month after introducing herself to the international stage in February 2022, McNamara suffered an ACL injury which cut her previous campaign short. 

Bouncing back from a serious injury can prove a tough test for many young footballers, but  McNamara has been able to pick up where she left off despite only 17 Liberty A-League matches under her belt. 

“I don’t think you have to be a Melbourne City fan to go and watch a player who’s ascending hopefully towards the peak of her powers at the moment,” A-Leagues commentator Teo Pellizzeri said. 

Polias added: “I think she deserves all the hype she gets. I think you can learn a lot as a player, not just as a City fan watching Holly McNamara. She’s just so hard to contain, she’s amazing in one v one situations.

“She can finish, she sets things up. Watch her kids.

“(It’s) a great opportunity as fans to build that connection in the A-Leagues and not if, but when she gets into the Matildas set-up, they’ve got that link to her and that connection.”

If McNamara continues on an upwards trajectory, all signs point to a call-up to the national team which could add extra dynamism to an already stacked Matildas forward line.     

“I also think the best thing about Holly is she’s so unpredictable in what she does,” Cannuli said. 

“She’s not someone that does the same thing over and over again. 

“She can change the way she plays the game and she brings that style to her Melbourne City style of play and it’s just a fantastic watch.

“(She’s) someone you can actually look to and aspire to be like Holly who brings such a great part of the game to us.”

How Alex Epakis is turning Perth Glory into a ‘destination club’

Perth Glory had never secured an away win in the nation’s capital prior to the weekend, but their 3-2 victory over Canberra United put an end to that. 

Head coach Alex Epakis has overseen gradual improvement with this Glory side since taking over in 2020 and their unbeaten start to the season may indicate the team are more than capable of gunning for something greater than last term’s sixth place finish. 

When asked the reason for Glory’s resurgence, Polias suggested it largely comes down to the environment Epakis has built to nurture young talent and instil consistency within the squad.

“It comes down to stability and we mentioned (Alex) Epakis… (the club have) been patient with him to let him build this squad,” Polias said. 

“There are clear objectives out there that I guess all players are on board. There’s leadership out there that youngsters are following.

“We saw youngsters driving forward to set-up (those goals). That’s what I see from them. Then you’ve got players like (Sofia) Sakalis, Susan Phonsongkham – the creativity of them and then (Grace) Jale offsets that with her own characteristics. 

“I think they’ve got a really good balance out there at the moment.” 

The acquisition of Grace Jale from Canberra United may be key to unlocking a Glory side who’ve long searched for a prolific goalscorer. 

The New Zealand international striker has netted two goals in three matches already and her physical prowess also gives her an edge against opposing defenders. 

“I think Jale is a great talent, we know that she can score goals and she’s been linking up really well with her Perth Glory teammates,” Cannuli said. 

“She’s come into this team and fitted in really well. It’s not an easy move to move halfway across the country side to Perth and to play your football over there but she fits in really easily into Epakis’ style of football. 

“I think he’s done a fantastic job and it’s a credit to Perth Glory putting their faith in him and the ability to be in Perth full-time and looking after these youngsters. 

“Because the ones that he’s brought through the Perth NTC system have been fantastic as well.”

Pellizzeri added: “Perth were in the market for a forward to spearhead to lead the line for the last two seasons. 

“And they approached some of the biggest names in the league. We’re talking Golden Boot winners, Dolan Medallists. They were trying to find a spearhead.

“Jale answering this call and taking her game to another level – this is part of Perth restoring credibility. 

“We’ve seen them win the Premiers Plate, we’ve seen them host Grand Finals. They want to get back there and showing that you can take your player’s career to the next level is a key part of becoming a destination club.”

Jale and Susan Phonsongkham’s consistent goal output early in the season could be the push Glory have needed to hunt for silverware.  

A 15-year-old record broken twice already

Just 14 days after Western Sydney Wanderers youngster Talia Younis became the youngest ever player in A-Leagues history, the record was broken again by her teammate. 

Ischia Brooking was subbed on for the Wanderers in their 1-1 draw against Newcastle Jets in the 95th minute to claim the new record at the age of just 14 years and 347 days.

“Isn’t that unbelievable to see another 14 year old being debuted in this competition,” Cannuli said.  

“I’ve heard so much about this young talent. You know a lot of people talk about what a talent she is and how technically sound she is.

“To see her get her chance today and jump on even though it is a couple of minutes – it’s a great way to start your A-Leagues debut.”

However, Robbie Hooker may be calling on the service of youngsters given injury concerns across the squad. 

New Zealand’s rising star Milly Clegg was finally eligible to start after 18-years-old which is the requirement set for overseas players, but picked up a knock in Sunday’s contest which may prompt a squad reshuffle. 

“Let’s not forget that Wanderers are putting these players on the pitch because they’re getting exemptions,” Pellizzeri said. 

“Normally you can’t debut until 15. Today, Cushla Rue had a head injury, she had massive swelling so hopefully she’s ok and no concussion to go with the head knock.

“But also Milly Clegg injured and subbed out on debut so their depth was already being tested and now two more injuries. 

“They look at the fixture away to Melbourne (City) so it’s going to be another week of perhaps shuffling the pack for Western Sydney and if you’re a train-on there, you’re probably saying ‘coach I’m ready’.”