CANBERRA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Canberra United's captain Michelle Heyman said she enjoyed playing soccer with Chinese winger Wu Chengshu after the home side drew with Melbourne Victory 1-1 in the 2022-2023 season of women's A-League here on Saturday.
Chinese international Wu came off the bench with 20 minutes left and boosted the Australian capital club with two left-footed shots and a free kick on the left wing.
Kennedy Faulknor struck from very close range to the bottom right corner to cheer the home crowds in the 72nd minute, while the Melbourne Victory equalized the scoreline just before injury time.
With two matches left in the season, the draw means United's hopes of a top-four place and a spot at the end-of-season finals faded, with the club five points away from fourth-placed Victory.
"The message from the coach is clear: Don't give up on it. We will try our best in the following matches," the 26-year-old Wu told Xinhua.
"I only played about 20 minutes today. I think I performed well as my teammate scored soon, and there were some positive changes."
Usually playing as a wide midfielder, Wu has emerged as a major attacking threat for China's national team, scoring the first goal against Japan in the Asian Cup semifinal in 2022.
Since joining in Canberra United in November last year, Wu has been deployed as a central midfielder in some matches. On Saturday, head coach Njegosh Popovich asked her to pair with Heyman in the attacking line as the team changed from a starting 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2 formation.
"I still prefer to attack more. If the position is pushed forward a little bit, I will feel pretty good," said Wu.
Heyman, the all-time record goalscorer in Australia's top-division women's soccer league, said she had seen Wu's development in her debut season here.
"She is just incredible. She's a very smart player. I really enjoy playing next to her because we do like that combination play that we've got to see a little bit of it today," said the captain.
"So you know, fingers crossed that we get a little bit more game time together. Put her in front of goal, and I know she would add three shots, and she'll get two. So she's just unlucky today."
The 34-year-old is also a former leading scorer for the Australian national team, the Matildas.
With the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July, Heyman said her focus is on the club, but playing in a home tournament is also a dream.
"Personally, I just wanna play good football now. That's all I can do. I'm not really thinking about Matildas. But yeah, always in the back of my mind, I'd love to be in the World Cup squad, but not sure if they're looking for an old girl like me," she said.
"I keep pushing myself. I'm still faster than some of these young kids. I'm playing good football, but you know it's up to Tony (national team head coach Tony Gustavsson). It's up to those leaders within the Matildas to put me on the field. For myself, I'm just gonna continue to play for Canberra. This is my love. So just do what I can." ■