Perth Glory women’s coach Alex Epakis is hoping the new A-League campaign can be played without the COVID disruptions that brought concern for player welfare last season.
Epakis, who has completely rebuilt the side that was winless in last year’s daunting schedule, was worried about his players when they were forced into long stretches away from home and short turnarounds.
He said he was pleased with the new season fixtures released on Tuesday.
“It’s a step up from last year,” Epakis said.
“If the fixtures stay as they are, where we play and who we play, I don’t really mind.
“But we are looking for a big improvement, a step forward ”
He will not have a full squad training together until close to the December 4 season start.
Four players who arrived from Sydney on Monday, Deborah-Anne de la Harpe, Demi Koulizakis, Susan Phonsongkham and Courtney Newbon, are in quarantine.
Their two international signings, highly rated American striker Cyera Hintzen and versatile Danish star Mie Leth Jans, arrive on Friday ahead of their quarantine.
“By the time the whole squad is available and out of quarantine we’ll have about four or five sessions,” Epakis said.
“It’s not much….but I refer to last year and the problems we faced.”
The first four rounds will be played in a conference system, with the five NSW-based teams in one group, and Glory home and away against Brisbane Roar, home to Canberra United and away to Adelaide United.
The draw will open up in the New Year with the relaxation of border restrictions and Glory have a return clash against Adelaide ahead of trips to Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets.
They have back-to-back home games against Western Sydney Wanderers and the first ever women’s Distance Derby against league newcomers Wellington Phoenix.
The first of four February fixtures start in Canberra followed by home clashes with Melbourne City and Sydney FC either side of a trip to Melbourne Victory.
The final game of the season is the return Distance Derby in Wellington.
Of the 70 regular-season women’s games, 32 will be double-headers played on the same day at the same venue as their associated men’s teams in an attempt to maximise broadcast and venue quality..
However, because of the Glory men’s schedule and their long opening stretch away from home it is not known whether the club will have any double-headers.
A-Leagues commissioner Greg O’Rourke said double-headers ensured the “highest levels of broadcast quality” and games to be played in “top-quality” stadiums.
The regular season will be held across 14 rounds with the finals system expanded to include a preliminary final.
The first and second placed teams will play off to progress directly to the grand final, with the loser facing the winner of the elimination final between the third and fourth-placed teams in the preliminary final.