Barbeiri predicts goals for W-League final

Westfield Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri says the contrasting strengths of Canberra United and Brisbane Roar should make for a great Westfield W-League grand final this weekend.

Westfield Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri says the contrasting strengths of Canberra United and Brisbane Roar should make for a great Westfield W-League grand final this weekend.

Despite United-s unbeaten run through the season, league form counts for little in such an occasion, according to the Matildas legend, who has recently been appointed as a People of Australia Ambassador.

“Finals football makes a level playing field,” Barbieri said. “Brisbane will definitely take it to [Canberra]; as far as Matildas go, Brisbane are on the heavy side with Australian representatives, so you can-t discount the individual brilliance of players in that team.

“Emily Gielnik coming off the bench can be a threat to any team - when Lisa De Vanna used to come off the bench for the Matildas it would scare the living daylights out of everyone. The fear of some of players in the Brisbane side will make it an even contest.”

“A team like Canberra should win in the end but whether they get the grand final day jitters or whether they succumb to the nerves, it-s anyone-s game.”

One thing the league winners do have on their side, according to Barbieri, is an excellent system and a team worth ethic.

“[Canberra-s undefeated run] just goes to show that they-ve been coached well before the season. They-ve been together for quite a long time - their team has barely changed in the four years of the W-League, so all those players that were rookies in the first year have developed into quality players.

“They-re not flashy players but every team needs one and Canberra-s full of them. The Sykes twins were making rookie errors but now they-ve developed into great players that know exactly what to do and what their role is in the team and that-s fundamental to any winning side.”

Another factor for those hoping for an open game could be the attacking talent on display, with Golden Boot winner Michelle Heyman leading the line for Canberra, going against Brisbane-s talented Gielnik.

“These girls have got a lot of pressure on them but they carry themselves so well, in front of goal at crucial times they-ve been unbelievable. I hope both of them have they-re scoring boots on so we see an excellent game.”

Barbieri was announced as a People of Australia Ambassador in last week, as part of a federal government initiative recognising Australian citizens from different cultural backgrounds and recognising their work within the community.

With her Italian heritage, Barbieri has been recognised for her work within schools and because of her position of captain with the Westfield Matildas.

“It-s an honour,” Barbieri said. “I just know it-s been chosen on the fact that you bring different parts of the community together and the work I do going out to schools - it-s about bringing different cultures together.

“I knew I was nominated but I hadn-t been told that I-d got in until a lady on twitter said, ‘Congratulations on being an Australian ambassador-. And sure enough Julia Gillard announced it with Harry O-Brien (an AFL star for Collingwood).

“It-s an ongoing role; I-m going to Canberra on 27 February to be involved in something official. I-m envisaging a knighting ceremony or something... I-d appreciate being called “her Excellency” from now on...”