Simonds Stadium in Geelong will on Saturday host Melbourne Victory’s first-ever Westfield W-League semi-final in Victoria.
The reigning champion will face off with Canberra United, having finished in second position – its highest-ever finish in a regular season.
Should it defeat Canberra, Victory will meet the winner of Perth Glory-Sydney FC in the final on December 21, with the highest-placed winner before finals to host.
Victory coach Joe Montemurro said he was thrilled with the outcome, despite the long road trip to Geelong for the fifth time in the team’s history.
“It’s an amazing achievement [first home semi-final], especially for the girls who have shown a real work ethic. They thoroughly deserve it and it’s an amazing milestone for Melbourne Victory,” Montemurro said.
“I suppose the reality is that the women’s game goes out to the community. We try to get out to all the communities to show what a great standard of football the W-League is, so I look at this as an opportunity to go out to another community and showcase this great level of football.
“Whether it’s Geelong, Melbourne, Bendigo or whatever, there’s a game of football to be played and we’ll be prepared for it.”
Montemurro said his players were fully fit after competing at the International Women’s Club Championship in Japan.
The squad arrived in Melbourne on Thursday morning, having been knocked out by Japanese powerhouse Yunogo Belle in the first round.
“Everyone’s OK. Of course it was disappointing to have a bad result [5-0 loss], but that scoreline didn’t really tell the truth about our performance,” he said.
“It taught them a lot. Just that attention to detail and discipline that these Asian countries have, you can really see that. They’ve got amazing discipline and humility and that reflects in the way they play. Everyone’s working to a collective element and they pull their weight.”
Despite the loss in Japan, Montemurro said there was a special feeling within the squad after a stunning finish to the W-League season.
Victory sat in fifth position with three rounds remaining on the back of a club record four-game winless streak, before defeating Western Sydney Wanderers (3-0), Brisbane Roar (2-1) and Newcastle Jets (4-0) to earn a home semi-final.
Some honest words and subsequent actions sparked the turnaround, according to Montemurro.
“They [players] realised the reality of the situation [during the form slump] and continued to believe in good work ethic. They’ve shown humility to realise where they went wrong and fix those areas, and I think that shows great character,” he said.
“When you’re in the inner sanctum, one thing that is very evident is that the girls really enjoy the workplace, and that’s important. They know what they can achieve.
“There’s a certain magic about Melbourne Victory, which I have felt but can’t quite put my finger on as to why. The girls who have come from interstate are always coming up to me and saying the same thing. We want to take this professionalism and magic into finals now.”
Westfield W-League Semi-final
Melbourne Victory v Canberra United
Saturday December 13, 2014
Kick-off: 3pm AEDT
TV: Live on ABC 1
Radio: Live on FFV Radio