‘A few clubs interested’ in Matildas star as coach drops double-transfer hint: GF Talking Points

WATCH: Jada Whyman’s emotional full-time moment after securing Grand Final victory

Sydney FC are Liberty A-League Champions, having defeated Premiers Melbourne City 1-0 in this season’s title decider – and there’s plenty to unpack in the aftermath of a tightly-contested Grand Final.

The key talking points include the moment you may have missed that kept Sydney on top late on, plus updates from key Sky Blues regarding their respective futures at the club as a Matildas star and the most valuable player in the Grand Final’s thoughts on where they might be playing next season.

CHAMPIONS: Sydney FC make history with Liberty A-League Grand Final triumph
THE MOMENT: 126 seconds that decided the Grand Final & the 16yo ‘rarity’ who made it happen

WHYMAN: Every word of Jada Whyman’s emotional reaction to Grand Final victory after ‘really hard season’
JURIC: ‘No other team has been close… this is the best team in history’
VIDOSIC: Seven telling words from Melbourne City’s boss as he predicted teen star’s future

Vine & Hawkesby discuss their futures after second-straight title

Cortnee Vine and Mackenzie Hawkesby have been two of the key contributors to Sydney FC’s consecutive Liberty A-League Championships – and after their second-straight Grand Final victory, both players were asked whether or not they’d be back in Sky Blue for a tilt at a three-peat.

Hawkesby, who was named best afield in Saturday’s 1-0 win over City, was clear in her response – but Vine stopped short of committing to a direction ahead of the 2024-25 season.

“No idea yet,” Vine said. “I feel like it’s one of those ones that hasn’t been on my mind, the forefront of my mind. Just with the Grand Final and everything coming up, it hasn’t been (at) the forefront.

“With the league, at the moment, it’s getting better and better but there’s still a long way to go so I’m hoping to see what comes, to be honest.

“There’s a few clubs interested overseas, but I have to weigh it all up. It’s not just going over and playing for a team like Arsenal or anything like that, it’s weighing up my life here.

“It’s not just as easy as: ‘I’m going to go play for a big team’. I have a whole life here that I love. I love Australia. It’s a big weigh-up for me, it’s not a very easy decision.”

Vine was then asked to clarify whether her reference to Arsenal, where Matildas teammates Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Kyra Cooney-Cross all play in the FA Women’s Super League, was a legitimate example of a club showing interest in her signature, to which she quickly moved to douse any discussion of a potential move.

“That was literally just an example,” Vine told reporters.

“I knew you guys were going to pick up on that! Just because we’re versing some of the Arsenal players (with the A-Leagues All Stars), it just came to my head.”

Hawkesby, however, was crystal clear with the press following her dazzling Grand Final display.

“I’ll definitely be at Sydney FC next season,” Hawkesby said.

“Playing for Sydney FC just brings me so much joy. I’m so happy here, and I think that’s why I was able to play at my best. That’s the reason why, over the last few seasons, I’ve played well.

“I built into the season, I think when we did have our draws, I knew that I was just so positive because I was back playing, and I love the team. Even though we weren’t dominating like the last few seasons, we still had that heart. And we did have quality.

“When you face adversity, I think you’ve got to rise to the occasion and when you’re backed against the wall, you’ve got to stand up. I love finals football, I’ve played in five Grand Finals so I do have a bit of experience but it’s just the best, I just love this team, I love this club. It’s an honour to be back and I’m grateful Sydney were able to bring me back.”

After winning the 2022-23 Championship with Sydney FC, Hawkesby re-joined the club in mid-season after a brief spell in England at Brighton and Hove Albion.

“I definitely put the call in,” Hawkesby said, when recalling the process involved in returning to the club. “And yeah, we got it done quite quickly. I knew where I was at in my career, and I wanted to come home.

“I just love Sydney FC, there’s just nothing else I’d rather do than play at this club. It’s the best feeling.”

Last season, Sydney’s Championship squad was struck by a number of key departures, including Sarah Hunter, Madison Haley, Charlize Rule, Hawkesby (for the start of the season) and more.

Head coach Ante Juric said, after this season’s Grand Final, that he didn’t expect to lose many players overseas this time around – but noted goalkeeper Jada Whyman and Vine as two players who could potentially set sail if the right offer comes through.

“Next year will be exciting because some of the youngsters will be a year older, Maddie (Caspers), Indi (Dos Santos), Shay Hollman’s going to be 19… they’ll be close to starting, and a little bit better… the club’s in a good place.

“I don’t think we’ll lose anyone overseas this time, maybe Viney is the one that potentially will look, maybe Jada, but the rest hopefully will stay. But I did say that last year, and I lost seven!”

“We’re trying. We’re trying to get a few (players) back,” Juric added.

“There’s a lot out of contract now, which does hurt us but hopefully they want to stay. We will move some players on, some didn’t fit and some got injured. It’s going to be tough. It’s a lot different to what it used to be in the past because players you’re trying to target have now got two-to-three-year contracts. Before it used to be one year, you’d ask them to come to Sydney and they’d turn up, because they want to play for Sydney.

“But now, I’ve already spoken to two or three players and they’re signed again for another year. They’d love to come, but they’re signed. It’s a little bit different in terms of the scene and contracts but from our players, I’ll definitely want to keep as many as we can, especially the core.”

Sydney youngster’s display of pure ‘instinct’ helps to decide Grand Final

With less than 10 minutes to play in Saturday’s Grand Final, Melbourne City – trailing 1-0 after Shea Connors opened the scoring for Sydney – threw bodies forward as they searched for an equaliser.

Seven City players convened inside the penalty area as Emina Ekic took possession down the left and crossed toward the far post, Leticia McKenna controlled the ball, then sent a shot hurtling toward the back of the net; Sky Blues keeper Jada Whyman dove to her right but it seemed the ball would evade her grasp on its way over the line – until Young Matildas midfielder Shay Hollman intervened.

“I think it was just instinct, to be honest!” Hollman told reporters post-game.

“I saw the ball coming and I was just like: ‘I’ll see what I can get on it to try and get it over (the bar)’. Luckily it didn’t go in!”

Hollman got back to save the day for Sydney FC. Stood in the path of McKenna’s rocket, the teenage midfielder deflected the ball over the bar to keep Sydney’s clean sheet intact. The Sky Blues remained on top until the final whistle, with that 1-0 lead eventually proving the difference.

“I think it was our grit that got us through,” Hollman added. “Everyone worked really hard the whole game, we were patient, we waited for our one chance and put it away, then just managed the game well, everyone got behind the ball.”

Hollman and Sydney FC became Liberty A-League Champions on the same day her brothers, Jake and Corey, faced off in an Isuzu UTE A-League Elimination Final. Corey’s Sydney FC beat Jake’s Macarthur FC 4-0 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

After Shay Hollman’s Grand Final win over City at AAMI Park in Melbourne, she was asked which game her parents had decided to watch in person.

“Yeah, mum and dad came down to watch,” she said.

“It’s been the question of the week – but they’ll watch their game on the flight home, put it that way!”

Cortnee Vine’s challenge to Liberty A-League to compete with overseas leagues

In the aftermath of the Liberty A-League’s longest-ever, full home-and-away season, Sydney FC star Cortnee Vine has now challenged the competition to find the investment needed to lure top talent Down Under.

“I think for you to get players with big profiles to come, more investment needs to come,” Vine said. “The girls aren’t going to come for less money than what they’re on overseas.

“We’re competing now with NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), WSL, they have a new league coming in, the USL (Super League). We’re now competing with three big leagues, because we’ve gone from a 12-week comp to a (22)-week comp. We’re now fighting against them to get players to come here – so if we’re put in that position, you now need to pay more because the girls aren’t going to come for less than what they can get back home, or overseas.

“Sam (Kerr), Alanna (Kennedy), everyone is over in the WSL getting paid great money, they’re professional, It’s what everyone wants. No one is going to come unless that’s what it is. I think nothing happens until we invest more.”