Football’s talent production line can sometimes seem to forget that behind every young player there is a dream.
On Friday night dreams were realised by Western United youngsters Thierry Iradukunda and Josh Cavallo.
Their side down 3-0 after being outclassed in the first half against Melbourne City, the pair, alongside youngster Dylan Pierias, was at the forefront of a late surge by the expansion club.
Cavallo – with his first professional touch – and Pierias both won penalties.
Though United lost 3-2, seeing young Australian players handed a chance and seizing it was welcome and makes a good case for the benefit of expansion clubs.
“The big story for our club is the number of young players who got their opportunity today for the future of this football club,” United coach Mark Rudan said post-game.
Cavallo has played for all three Melbourne A-League clubs but, despite developing into a Young Socceroo and winning City’s 2017/18 Y-League Player of the Year award, opportunities had previously been lean under then-City boss Warren Joyce.
Aware that the new expansion side presented his last real chance to succeed in the A-league, Cavallo looked to United.
“[There’s been] a lot of hard work and dedication,” Cavallo told The New Daily. “I’ve worked so hard for this moment and it pays off.
“My stomach turned upside down [when told he was coming on]. You can’t explain that moment.
“I thought I was in a dream. I was very shocked. I’ve been on the bench a couple of times during the season and the time was now.
[The coaches] said to go out there and express myself. They said that you’ve worked hard for this moment so go out and show us what you’ve got.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I won’t let it go any time soon.”
Fires also impacting football
With forecasts predicting extremely hazardous air quality in Canberra, Sunday’s W-League and Y-League fixtures between hosts Canberra and Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets were postponed.
Football clubs at all levels have mobilised to raise money to support fire victims and firefighters.
The Red and Black Bloc, Western Sydney Wanderers and the club’s sponsors collectively raised $48,812.47 in December, and the three Victorian clubs – City, United and Melbourne Victory, came together this weekend to donate $2 for every ticket sold to relief efforts.
The FFA on Sunday morning announced that Rounds 14 and 15 of the A-League season and Rounds 9 and 10 of the W-League season would also be dedicated to supporting those affected.
Professional Footballers Australia and Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan is donating $1000 for every goal scored across the round and members of Adelaide United’s donated $5 for each of the 477 passes the Reds completed against Sydney FC.
Individual players such as Matt Jurman and Ellie Carpenter have also pledged individual contributions, while global megastars Kylian Mbappé, Claudio Marchisio and Paulo Dybala also highlighted the crisis to their millions of social media followers.
Kerr makes Chelsea debut
Sam Kerr’s Chelsea debut on Sunday night (AEDT) marked the start of another journey for the Australian superstar.
The Matildas superstar is perhaps the highest-profile player to ever sign in the English league, which – with Europe quickly emerging as a dominant force in women’s football – is establishing itself as one of the best in the world.
Kerr, who trained with her new side for the first time this week, became the highest-paid women’s footballer in England when she signed a three-year deal believed to be over a million dollars.
She will now focus on helping third-placed Chelsea chase down a top-two league finish that will bring with it Champions League qualification.
W-League run to the line
Melbourne Victory was the unlikely premier of the W-League a season ago, riding a wave of momentum into a finals campaign that took a rampant Kerr and Perth Glory to end.
But, alas for fans of Victory, off-season upheaval in their playing ranks has seen the club struggle to recapture that same magic in 2019/20, and coach Jeff Hopkins’ side entered round eight in sixth place.
Sunday’s 2-1 win over Newcastle moved them back inside the top four and, with a manageable slate of games ahead, finals is on the agenda again.
Recently shifting to a back-five, preparations are also clearly underway for the return of injured Laura Brock (Alleway) and a solid run to the business end of the season.
Wednesday: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-2 Brisbane Roar 1-2
Friday: Melbourne City 3-2 Western United
Saturday: Wellington Phoenix 2-1 Central Coast Mariners; Sydney FC 2-1 Adelaide United
Sunday: Melbourne Victory 4-0 Newcastle Jets
Thursday: Brisbane Roar 0-2 Melbourne City
Friday: Adelaide United 2-2 Perth Glory