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Published December 02, 2021 at 23:51:53

New era begins: Your Liberty A-League season guide

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An A-Leagues anthem, a hyped international series between The Matildas and USA, a new broadcaster and now an expanded Liberty A-League 2021/22 season.

A nationwide launch was a metaphoric ribbon-cutting ahead of Friday’s official kick-off, with the unprecedented level of attention on women’s football fusing with an exciting new dawn.

Life-changing opportunities are on offer as we edge towards the 2023 FIFA World Cup, with a rebrand (A-League Women replaces W-League in an Australia-first, world-leading move), a record 32 double headers, a new naming rights sponsor (Liberty) plus an aptly-titled anthem ushering in a new era in domestic football abound with mouth-watering opportunities.

Sydney FC goalkeeper Jada Whyman, who along with young sister plays a starring role in the music video for ‘Real Nice (HCTF – acronym for Here Come The Future), featuring ARIA winner TKAY Maidza, Young Franco and emerging Brisbane artist Nerve, was on hand to launch the season in Sydney.

Whyman, who was the player of the match in last season’s Grand Final loss to Melbourne Victory, is among an emerging crop of players who will be closely watched by Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson this season.

PODCAST: Enjoy our season preview show below, or via Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Sky Blues teammate Cortnee Vine and Western Sydney Wanderers pair, attacking midfielder Libby Copus-Brown and Matildas-capped defender Caitlin Cooper also harbour international ambitions.

Ditto Lily Alfeld and Kate Taylor, the New Zealand youth internationals who are dreaming of Silver Ferns call ups and Australia’s World Cup co-host New Zealand. Alfeld and Taylor have been named captain and vice-captain for expansion side Wellington, who have become the league’s 10th team and the first expansion club since 2015.

The 2020/21 season signified a changing of the guard in Melbourne, with Melbourne Victory claiming their first title in seven years, book-ending a period of dominance from local rivals Melbourne City, who won four of the five titles in between.

New Victory captain Kayla Morrison, who was the icing on Jeff Hopkins’ cake last season adding quality to his defence, signified the wonderful opportunities on offer to hard-working footballers, sensationally taking her W-League chance after cutting her teeth in the Victorian WNPL with Bulleen.

Ditto fellow US-born player Catherine Zimmerman, whose WNPL scoring exploits with Calder United also landed her a shot in the top tier and she repaid the fait with six goals.

Matildas-capped defender Emma Checker will play a key role in picking up a wounded A-League Women’s giant. The City side of last season was a shadow of the team that dominated en route to four titles in their first five seasons. Midfielder Leah Davidson, 20, signifies City’s new era.

The nation’s capital possesses great intrigue over coming months – and that’s before we factor in the upcoming Federal election. Michelle Heyman was in vintage form in her return to football, as she overtook Sam Kerr as the A-League Women’s record goalscorer.

I WAS THERE SERIES: Have you enjoyed our retrospectives yet?

With the 20/21 Julie Dolan Medal (after 10 goals in 11 games) and 73 career goals in her locker, the sharpshooter is primed for another stellar campaign, having been confirmed as Canberra United skipper.

Exciting Indigenous attacker Shay Evans’ return headlined the Adelaide-based launch, where the Borroloola-born Young Matilda was accompanied by Isabel Hodgson. After edging so close to breaking the finals drought, Adelaide United will be buoyed by the record 5159 crowd that attended their final game of the season.

In Brisbane, Jamilla Rankin epitomises the emerging crop of talent, after becoming one of the breakout stars of last season, rewarded with a Matildas call up. New signing Natalie Tathem will fill an important role at Roar, who have lost a lot of experience.

Isabell Hodgson and Shadeene Evans.

In Perth, inspirational captain Natasha Rigby was joined by ex-Manchester City defender Mie Leth Jans, who has won 26 Denmark caps.

In Newcastle, Jets co-captain Cassidy Davis was joined by exciting new signing, Norway-capped Marie Dolvik Markussen, with the latter promising goals in her debut season.

The 2021/22 season will feature more games at some of the country’s leading football venues and expanded broadcast coverage, plus an expanded finals series, the new campaign included 10 teams for the first time after the Phoenix’s admission.

Wellington kicks off the season at its quasi Wollongong home base, against the Wanderers, while Canberra United also host Melbourne City on Friday.

OUR LIBERTY A-LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEWS

By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

Adelaide United: Can Chelsie Dawber lead the Reds into the post-season?

Brisbane Roar: Gorry returns – but do departures take their toll?

Canberra United: Tune in to the Heyman and Sykes renaissance

Melbourne City: Another season of obscurity for the heavyweights?

Melbourne Victory: Can the champions go back-to-back?

Newcastle Jets: Do international arrivals boost Newcastle’s chances?

Sydney FC: Does club legend Polias’ absence take its toll on the premiers?

Perth Glory: De Vanna arrives eager bounce Perth back up the table

Wellington Phoenix: can the exuberance of youth help Wellington make a fast start?

Western Sydney Wanderers: Can coach Cannuli inspire a postseason charge?

Have you heard our new anthem? Listen below!

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