It’s been a long pre-season of blood, sweat and tears, but Wanderers W-League head coach Dean Heffernan says the girls are confident and ready to go for the opening game of the season against Adelaide United at Marconi Stadium tonight.
Speaking ahead of the squad’s final training run this afternoon, Heffernan said he can feel the excitement levels building among the players.
“It has been a long time coming and the excitement has been building. We just want to get to the game and I am sure the players feel the same way,” Heffernan said.
“They are ready that’s for sure and they have been for a couple of weeks now.”
The Wanderers will go into the season under the spotlight having embarked on one of the most exciting and positive player recruitment drives in their short history in the women’s competition.
Backed by the club, Heffernan has been able to put together a quality squad, adding the likes of National Women's Soccer League stars Lynn Williams, Kristen Hamilton, Abby Smith and Sam Staab as well as Republic of Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan.
Given the addition of a number of high-quality locals like Amy Harrison and Erica Halloway as well as some rising stars of the Young Matildas, it is no surprise there is so much hype around the Red & Black this season.
Heffernan said he is comfortable with the attention as the Wanderers look to create history by qualifying for the W-League finals for the first time in their short history.
“For us as a club, there is always that expectation. Your hear it all the time once you put on the Wanderers shirt that it can be heavy for some,” he said.
“But we have been lucky to have the type of girls who all have their own goals and own ambition.
“We are ambitious as coaches, but the players are even more so.
“A lot of them want to be involved in the Olympics, a lot of them want to win titles and be in the Matildas and we are lucky to have those type of people here and I am sure the expectations shouldn’t affect them.”
This will be Heffernan’s biggest job as a senior coach and he could not be happier.
“I am loving every moment, I am really enjoying being in the W-League and working with these girls,” he added.
“They are a joy to be around ... the buy in, how nice they are to each other every training session. It is a breath of fresh air from what I have seen in the men’s game over the years.
“I am lucky to have people like (assistants) Michael Beauchamp and Catherine Cannuli, two legends of the club and you can see why they are.”
Despite there being little or no exposed form in terms of the other clubs, Heffernan is confident he knows enough about opponents Adelaide United.
“It is difficult to find games, but you can always manage to get an idea of how teams play in the players they sign,” he said.
“The things they read about us possibly will change the way they play. But, for us, I know it doesn’t matter who we play, we know what we want to do.”