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Nov 3, 2013

Stars, TV to boost W-League

Hoping to mirror the impetus delivered to the A-League, the W-League will also bank on star power and increased television exposure to boost its stocks for the 2013/14 season starting this weekend.

Just as the men's game has benefited from Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono, the women's competition has punted on several international greats to spark interest, European player of the year Nadine Angerer headlining a host of foreign recruits.

The Germany goalkeeper will line up for Brisbane Roar, while Canberra United will boast a trio of American professionals, most notably 2011 Women's World Cup midfielder Lori Lindsey.

Perth Glory have been supplemented in attack by another World Cup veteran in Canada striker Christina Julien, with Melbourne Victory again welcoming back influential Wales skipper Jess Fishlock.

The W-League will also feature on Pay TV for the first time with several selected matches to be broadcast on Fox Sports, while ABC will return to weekly live coverage after limited coverage last season.

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Steve Roach believes the level of players coming to Australia reflects the growing standard of the league.

"Players come here for a reason, and they now know it is a good league," he said.

"We had interest from all over, and we were even talking to (USA striker) Sydney Leroux.

"If clubs choose carefully there are some great options."

The opening weekend will be highlighted by a grand final rematch as Melbourne Victory aim to reverse last season's result against Sydney FC.

The Victory will be boosted in their push to go one better having picked-up high-profile Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna from Perth Glory.

Among the other key local recruits are goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri who has joined Adelaide United, while Western Sydney Wanderers have stepped up their ambitions by signing Matildas midfield duo Heather Garriock and Emily van Egmond.

Two-time champions Brisbane Roar host Canberra United in another meeting of title aspirants in the opening round.

Roar and Matildas forward Tameka Butt, who spent the off-season with German powerhouse club Frankfurt, says the W-League's international status is growing.

"Wherever you go overseas people ask about the W-League," she said.

"There has been a massive leap in the quality and professionalism of the W-League since it started five years ago.

"This season of the W-League is very important for the Matildas and our World Cup hopes, especially with so many young players in the team."

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