Adelaide United Westfield W-League season preview: Rajcic believes Young Reds will be gunning for glory

Former Adelaide United captain Marijana Rajcic says the young and hungry Reds are under no pressure to succeed this season; and that’s why they will.

Adelaide made some eye-catching moves in the off-season, recruiting some of the most promising up-and-coming names in the women’s game. Rajcic believes those young starlets will help the make an unlikely charge to the Westfield W-League finals.

Read how Rajcic predicts the Reds to fare this season in our comprehensive pre-season preview of Adelaide United as they head into the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

Last season: 6th
Rajcic’s predicted position for 2019/20: 4th


TRANSFER UPDATE: Every Westfield W-League In for the 2019/20 Season
CAN'T MISS GAMES: Five matches that could shape the Westfield W-League Season

w-league.com.au’s two things to watch

Teenage prodigy Fowler makes Westfield W-League debut

She’s long been touted as the star of the next crop of Westfield Matildas, and now 16-year-old Mary Fowler is ready continue her upwards trajectory and make her mark at the Reds.

Fowler is joined by her sister Ciara in Adelaide where they will both make their debuts in the Westfield W-League, and fans will watch on with much intrigue to see what impact the Fowler sisters can make.

Improving on last season’s fleeting brilliance

In the 2018/19 Westfield W-League campaign, Adelaide looked set to make a rare venture into finals football after an unbeaten run in their first five games, but just one win from their last four games saw Ivan Karlovic’s side crash out of contention, finishing sixth.

They had a taste of success last season but ultimately failed to follow through on the promise shown early doors.

Can Head Coach Karlovic recreate his side’s terrific form from early last season, and more importantly, can he find a way to make that form last?

First five fixtures

Western Sydney Wanderers (a)
Sydney FC (H)
Melbourne City (a)
Brisbane Roar (a)
Canberra United (H)

Adelaide's Emily Hodgson takes Melbourne Victory's Melina Ayres in the Westfield W-League's version of the Original Derby.
Adelaide's Emily Hodgson takes Melbourne Victory's Melina Ayres in the Westfield W-League's version of the Original Derby.

Rajcic’s key match-ups: Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City

Melbourne Victory

“Anytime Adelaide plays Melbourne Victory it’s always a pretty big, hyped up game.

“You never want to lose to the Victory, so that’s definitely must-watch.”

Melbourne City

“When you’re looking at the A-League and W-League, the way Melbourne City in terms of professionalism and facilities and resources they have on offer and they’re able to offer their players, they’re the ones setting the benchmark.

“You look at their line-up and they’ve got how many Matildas in there, it’s definitely one of those teams that if you can come up against and do well you can give yourself that boost that you might need.”

KEY MATCHES: Every key date & derby for Westfield W-League 2019/20 Season
HOW TO WATCH: Every Westfield W-League 2019/20 match live and free

Rajcic’s players to watch

Sarah Willacy

“I can’t go past Sarah Willacy in goals.

“She just recently got the Matildas call up in the current squad now and that’s hats off to her for all the hard work she’s done.

“She’s a phenomenal shot stopper and she’s so hard to beat, even last season there were games she kept Adelaide in the game.

“I definitely would say she’s the one that if she can have a really good season again she could definitely keep Adelaide in that finals hunt.”

Isabel Hodgson

“She’s been going to college and she’s finally finished her degree.

“I think having a full pre-season and being settled in Adelaide again is going to help her show what she can do and thrive with her speed.”

Isabel Hodgson
Isabel Hodgson played seven matches in 2018/19 after a season away from the Westfield W-League.

The squad

IN

Emily Condon Story 
Georgia Campagnale Story 
Chelsie Dawber Story 
Emily Hodgson Story 
Mary Fowler Story
Ciara Fowler Story 
Sarah Willacy  Story 
Laura Johns Story 
Dylan Holmes Story 
Kahlia Hogg Story 
Charlotte Grant Story 
Isabel Hodgson Story
Mallory Weber Story
Amber Brooks Story

Rajcic’s squad verdict

“The beauty of [the squad] is they are so young, they’re exciting.

“You look at the squad Ivan’s putting together now with Emily Hodgson and Charlie Grant, they’re going to play Young Matildas football.

“They’re getting international experience under their belt. 

“Obviously signing the Fowler girls as well, I think it’s brilliant. 

“You’ve got up and coming, exciting Australian footballers that need regular game time and, for them to be playing together and already having international experience playing together, it’s really going to help.

“I definitely think it’s going to be an exciting season, and if the girls can stay injury free and have that consistency anything is possible.”

Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season Highlights: Adelaide United

Adelaide United 2019/20 squad

Sarah Willacy, Charlotte Grant, Emily Hodgson, Kahlia Hogg, Laura Johns, Georgia Campagnale, Emily Condon, Chelsie Dawber, Ciara Fowler, Isabel Hodgson, Dylan Holmes, Mary Fowler, Mallory Weber, Amber Brooks.

The boss

“Definitely as a player, as a defender, Ivan Karlovic has got that experience. He knows what it’s like to be at a high level in that sort of league.

“Coming to coach girls there’s different ways of tackling certain situations, but he’s knowledgeable, he knows how to play the game, and he’s supported by the club which has put people around him that can help him develop and get better.

“I love the fact that he’s willing to put faith in these young kids and give them the opportunity to thrive and be successful, and you can see that by giving these kids a run in the W-League.

“It’s awesome to see him have faith and belief in those kind of girls and back them in, whereas some coaches may take a little bit longer to give things like that a go.

“He’s been using the last couple of years as a preparation and building that up.

“He’s invested knowing it may take a few years and he’s had the backing from the club.”

Ivan Karlovic
Adelaide United head coach Ivan Karlovic

Rajcic’s prediction

“I definitely think this is the year Adelaide United can play finals.

“I’m going to say fourth, and I think the more games they get together they’ll do better as the season goes on.

“The start of the season is always hit and miss, it’s finding that form, you can see teams that drop points here, win points there, so it’s just whichever team can hit their straps early on.

“I guess the teams to watch our for, you’re looking at Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, they’re probably the big three that I think will be tough to beat.

“Like I said with the W-League, anything can happen, if you find your form and belief and have a good team around you, anything can happen.”

The kits

Adelaide’s Macron home kit is predominantly red with blue and yellow trim on the collar and sleeves.

Their away kit for the 2019/20 season is white, with a red collar and minor red detailing on the shoulders.