The ground conditions for the Melbourne derby were ‘dangerous’.
The ground conditions for the Melbourne derby were ‘dangerous’.

Dodgy surface leaves Matildas in firing line

Melbourne City women's coach Rado Vidosic slammed the "dangerous" Epping Stadium surface and said the upcoming W-League fixture posed a threat to Matildas World Cup aspirants.

Players labeled the conditions "embarrassing" after Melbourne Victory hosted City in last Saturday's Melbourne derby, which the home side won 1-0.

Seven Matildas and several several international World Cup hopefuls are due to play on Epping Stadium in the January 27 clash between Victory and Sydney FC, headlined by Sky Blues quintet Caitlin Foord, Lisa De Vanna, Alanna Kennedy, Chloe Logarzo and Princes Ibini plus Victory pair Emily Gielnik and Laura Alleway.

Vidosic, whose City team returns to a pristine AAMI Park surface for Friday night's double-header with Brisbane Roar, said players, including Alen Stajcic's Matildas, were being exposed to danger ahead of the 2019 World Cup, starting June 7.

"Absolutely not (safe to play the upcoming fixture). It was definitely not safe for us. So unless they improve it, I would suggest to take it somewhere else,'' Vidosic said.

"The surface was very dangerous - soft underneath, loose, uneven and lots of holes. I don't think we should promote the W-League on surfaces like that, especially when those games are televised across the world.

"We tried to talk to the (match) commissioner, the referees, tried to contact (FFA), we tried everything to help our national team to not get any more injuries because they've already got a few they must deal with.

"Whoever was looking after that field didn't really spend enough time (on the pitch) over Christmas, maybe they had holidays. There was no-one there to check the field, maybe because of the closeness to Christmas and New Year's."


Epping Stadium is set to host another big W-League clash later this month.
Epping Stadium is set to host another big W-League clash later this month.

Vidosic said the pitch not only posed a health risk - a youth league double-header also had to be moved because of inadequate changeroom facilities - but affected the quality of the match.

"Our girls were very sore 2-3 days after the game because of the uneven and soft surface, we had to change our training program to accommodate. Luckily we avoided any major injuries from the field,'' he said.

"The ball slowed down and girls had problems moving the ball from under their feet - the perfect example was Tameka (Butt's) one on one with the keeper when (the ball got stuck) under her feet."