‘This is destiny’: Sydney relish ALW premiership chase

Joanna Guelas |

Courtnee Vine (left), coach Ante Juric and Charlotte Mclean celebrate Sydney’s 2023 title.
Courtnee Vine (left), coach Ante Juric and Charlotte Mclean celebrate Sydney’s 2023 title.

Sydney FC have seen this movie before.

Win on Sunday against Melbourne Victory and they will go down in A-League Women history as the first side to claim four consecutive premiership titles.

Lose or draw, they will have to hope for Perth to beat second-placed Melbourne City later in the day.

The premiership chase has gone down to the wire for the Sky Blues after a Michelle Heyman goal denied them a bite of the cherry in their 1-0 loss to Canberra on Wednesday.

But this isn’t their first rodeo.

Sydney defender Charlotte Mclean recalls her side were in the same situation less than three years ago.

Faced with the opportunity to secure the 2020/21 premiership plate with a game to spare, the Sky Blues could not overcome Canberra and were forced to prove their mettle against Victory – and they did.

“We’ve won the last few premierships in this situation where it’s been do-or-die in the last game,” Mclean said on Thursday about the 2021 premiership.

“The game before the Victory game was actually against Canberra and we lost that game. It’s really quite crazy.

“After the game (Wednesday’s Canberra loss), obviously we’re upset, but then we just all got around each other and were like ‘No, this is destiny. This is how it’s meant to be. That’s how we’ve always done it, we’re gonna rise’.

“I just hope that we really, actually mean that when we say it.”

Challenged by season-ending injuries, a new roster and international travel, a finish in the top spot was never certain for Ante Juric’s side.

Sydney were in sixth place in late December, and now they are one point clear of the pack.

“When we do win the premiership – touch wood – it will definitely be the sweetest or the most hard-earned one,” Mclean said.

Hannah Keane (left) and Sydney FC's Charlotte McLean
Western United’s Hannah Keane (left) and Sydney FC’s Charlotte Mclean in the 2023 grand final. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

“We’ve had such a hard year. It’s been the longest season in history, plus we flew to Uzbekistan (for the AFC Women’s Championship) in the middle of it and played three extra games.

“So what we’ve done, it’s been so difficult.

“There’s definitely been moments where we’ve all had to take time to reflect and be like, ‘Are we getting the best out of ourselves? Are we handling this?’

“We’ve all learned and grown so much, so if you had told me in January that we’d be where we are now, I’d be like, ‘No way, that’s not possible’.

“We’re trying … not getting too overwhelmed with the big moments, but in saying that we’ve been in this position before and we’re used to it.

“I’d like to think not, but we’re only human.”

The round kicks off with finals hopefuls Newcastle and Adelaide United on Friday, then Western Sydney go toe-to-toe against Wellington in a bid to hold on to their top-six spot on Saturday, followed by Brisbane Roar taking on Canberra United.

Sydney kick off Sunday’s affairs against Melbourne Victory, before Perth and Melbourne City close out the home-and-away season.