Semi-Final Preview: Will Sydney star be challenged to recreate iconic Matildas moment this weekend?

Liberty A-League Highlights Show | Semi Final First Leg

The Liberty A-League Semi-Finals continue this weekend, with two second-leg clashes set to decide the 2023-24 Grand Finalists.

Melbourne City are in command of their tie with Newcastle Jets; a 3-0 first-leg win put the Premiers in pole position to claim a spot in the title decider when they host the Jets at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.

The other Semi-Final tie is more evenly poised; Sydney FC beat Central Coast Mariners 1-0 away from home in leg one but defeating the Mariners in leg two is no guarantee as Emily Husband’s side prepare to cause an upset at Leichhardt Oval.

Read on for all the big talking points and key stats, along with broadcast information and ticket details, ahead of this weekend’s two Semi-Finals.



Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners

Saturday, 3pm AEST – Leichhardt Oval

Sydney lead 1-0 on aggregate

Sydney FC star Cortnee Vine hasn’t taken a penalty since that iconic night in Brisbane – but she’s ready to repeat the feat if called upon in a Semi-Final shootout.

Vine wrote her name in Matildas folklore in August, 2023 when she struck home the winning spot kick in a penalty shootout win over France in the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup; nine months later, Vine’s Sydney FC lead Central Coast Mariners by one goal in a two-legged Liberty A-league Semi-Final tie.

Heading into the return leg, Vine was asked whether the prospect of a penalty shootout had been discussed among the playing group.

“That’s interesting – we haven’t really spoken about it,” she said. “I think that’s something we have to probably pick this week.

“I’m probably expected to take one, I haven’t taken a pen since my last pen (at the World Cup). I’m sure I’ll put my hand up if it comes to that situation, and I’m sure a lot of leaders will do the same.”

Sydney are playing to reach a seventh-consecutive Grand Final under head coach Ante Juric – a simply staggering statistic that Vine says does not receive enough credit in Australian football circles.

“I think even looking at it with six consecutive Grand Finals (so far), I think it’s unheard of,” Vine said. “That comes down to the coach. Ante is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. I definitely wouldn’t be in any position I’ve been in without him, and I think that’s along with a lot of the other girls.

“We’d never be in these Premiership and Grand Final positions if it wasn’t for him; I don’t think he gets enough credit. Coach of the Year – he’s my Coach of the Year every year. I’m not sure what the man has to do sometimes to get that!

“He doesn’t get recognised enough, and if he was to make a seventh-consecutive Grand Final, again, it’s not heard of. For us, it definitely gets us motivated.”

The Sky Blues come into Saturday’s Semi-Final nursing a one-goal lead but Central Coast could have easily been ahead in the tie after a first leg littered with chances to the Gosford outfit.

The Mariners took 18 shots to Sydney’s 17 and had seven shots on target to Sydney’s six; Vine expects Central Coast to come out swinging in the second leg in pursuit of a spot in the Grand Final.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Central Coast came out and changed their formation a little bit,” Vine said.

“I think we’ll go into more tactical analysis of them in the next few days with Ante, and try some different approaches with how they’ll come out, and how we’ll adapt to that. But also, we’ll go out and play the same way we usually play. You need to be constant with the formation you go out with and the players you go out with.

“Not much changes for us but in terms of them coming out, I’m not sure what they’ll come out with but we will adjust accordingly I think.

“Ante is very good at going through how they might come out. With a team that’s chasing, it’s going to be obviously more attacking.”



  • Sydney FC have lost only one of their last four A-League Women games against Central Coast Mariners (W2 D1), keeping three clean sheets in that span; though, they have lost each of their last two games at home against the Mariners.
  • Central Coast Mariners have lost only two of their last nine A-League Women games away from Industree Group Stadium (W7 – inc. penalty shootouts); though, they’ve not scored a goal in either of their last two games away from the Gosford venue.
  • Sydney FC (W11 D2) and Central Coast Mariners (W8 D4) are the only teams that have not lost a game after scoring the opening goal on the day in the 2023/24 A-League Women season.
  • Mackenzie Hawkesby (Sydney FC) has scored one goal in each of her last two A-League Women games against Central Coast Mariners and has been directly involved in four goals across her last five games in the competition overall (2 goals, 2 assists).
  • Isabel Gomez (Central Coast Mariners) has won possession an average of 10.3 times per game in the 2023/24 A-League Women season, the only player to have done so more than 10 times per game in the competition; she has also made the most total tackles (102) and contested the second most duels (305).


Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets

Sunday, 1pm AEST – AAMI Park

Melbourne City lead 3-0 on aggregate

Melbourne City are hot favourites to progress to the Liberty A-League Grand Final having carved out a comfortable three-goal aggregate lead over Newcastle Jets in the Semi-Finals.

History is not on Newcastle’s side as they travel to AAMI Park; incredibly, the Jets have never beaten City in Liberty A-League history, losing 15 times and drawing once. City have kept 11 clean sheets across those 16 unbeaten games.

It’s the longest winless streak of any A-Leagues club against a rival side of all time – but if Jets head coach Ryan Campbell wishes to break the streak, he’ll be looking toward recent history away from facing City for inspiration.

The Jets have won their last three games as the away team, scoring 15 goals across that stretch. Campbell’s side can find the back of the net at will when they’re on song but to dump City out of the Finals Series, they’ll need a monumental effort to turn their three-goal deficit around.

Newcastle came unstuck against City in the first leg and it was two young Australian prospects who swung the tie in favour of the Premiers.

Daniela Galic, 17, is a Young Matildas star and in leg one of the Semi-Finals, scored the opening goal to put City on top.

Emina Ekic made it 2-0 to City on the hour mark but 15-year-old Junior Matildas captain Shelby McMahon popped up with the third to put her side out of sight.

McMahon and Galic, two teenage talents with very bright futures, leading the Premiers to within touching distance of the Grand Final; it’s a special story to follow as the Finals Series rolls on.




  • Melbourne City FC are undefeated against Newcastle Jets in the A-League Women, picking up 15 wins and a draw from their 16 total encounters including 11 clean sheets across that stretch; it’s the most games any team has played against another without losing in the competition.
  • Melbourne City FC lost 1-3 to Western United FC in their last A-League Women game at AAMI Park after winning four in a row prior to that fixture; in fact, they also lost their last finals game at the venue 1-3 to the Melbourne Victory after winning three in a row prior.
  • Melbourne City FC have outperformed their Expected Goals in each of their last two A-League Women games after not keeping up with their xG in any of their previous eight games in the competition; furthermore, City have outperformed their xG in five of their last six games against Newcastle Jets.
  • Daniela Galic (Melbourne City FC) has been directly involved in eight goals across her last nine starting appearances in the A-League Women (5 goals, 3 assists) and has scored one goal in each of her last two starts in the competition.