Record crowd may be key in W-League final
Melbourne Victory believe a record crowd could be a key factor in helping lift the side to a maiden W-League crown against Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Sunday.
The Victory are hosting the grand final having finished higher on the ladder than the Sky Blues, after edging past Perth Glory on penalties in an epic contest last weekend.
With crowds up 22 per cent this season across the league, officials are optimistic the record W-League attendance of 4554 set in Brisbane four years ago will be eclipsed.
Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata has urged fans travelling to Melbourne for the Australia Day A-League clash between the same two clubs on Saturday to stay on for the W-League finale.
"Having that home crowd support means a lot to us," said Melbourne midfielder Gulcan Koca.
"We are looking forward to showing new supporters what we can do and allow everyone to see what W-League players are capable of.
"Having a home grand final is very exciting though it feels slightly surreal, and we have tried to keep the hype of the occasion to a minimum."
Sydney FC will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky having yet to beat the Victory this season.
The Sky Blues fell to an unlucky 2-1 home defeat to Victory in November, before managing a scratchy 1-1 draw in Melbourne last month.
However, it is Sydney who boasts impressive championship credentials having featured in two of the W-League's four grand finals, securing one title.
The Victory, conversely, are yet to win a finals match losing two semi-finals in previous seasons, and edging through to this season's decider thanks only to last week's penalty shoot-out.
"We have traditionally always been the underdog against Sydney but that is changing," said Koca.
"We haven't lost to Sydney this season and it would be hugely disappointing if we couldn't keep that form going."
Sydney will have to overcome the loss of striker Emma Kete to suspension, and defender Ellyse Perry who is with the Australian cricket team preparing for the ICC Women's World Cup in India.
Recent form though suggests the Sky Blues will start as marginal favourites having disposed of premiers Brisbane Roar in impressive fashion last weekend, while the Victory have drawn their past two matches including a costly stumble against bottom side Newcastle Jets a fortnight ago.
"This season the W-League was more competitive than ever and every team has been a threat," said Sydney captain Kyah Simon.
"Melbourne Victory have always been in the top four this season, but in a grand final anything can happen."