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Jeff Hopkins bullish over Melbourne Victory's W-League chances: 'We believe we can achieve something'

Tournament of Nations: Sam Kerr (16') Japan 1-2 Australia

After three seasons in the W-League wilderness, coach Jeff Hopkins feels Melbourne Victory are well poised to roar back into finals contention this season.

Victory have bolstered their playing stocks for the 11th campaign of Australia's national women's soccer league, which begins on Thursday night with a Sydney derby.

Victory kick off their season on Sunday against Adelaide United at 4:15pm, a curtain-raiser to their A-League clash with Perth Glory at AAMI Park.

Hopkins has lured gun striker and former England international Natasha Dowie back to Melbourne on a two-year deal to skipper the club.

She'll be joined by a trio of experienced Americans -- Christine Nairn, Dani Weatherholt and Sam Johnson -- fresh from their NWSL commitments in the United States.

Throw in Melbourne-born Matildas striker Emily Gielnik and up-and-comer Grace Maher, who join for their first Victory campaigns, and you can understand Hopkins' excitement.

"We're by no means getting carried away but we know we're a lot better this year," he said.

"It's important we go into this season feeling confident and with belief.

"In the last couple of years, belief has been a real problem for us and, this year, we believe we can achieve something."

Victory's turnaround is a long time coming.

The A-League powerhouse has been accused of letting its W-League side go to seed, losing several players to upstarts Melbourne City on their admission three seasons ago.

City, with an admirable focus on starting an elite women's program, have won three titles in that time and Victory have claimed two wooden spoons.

Hopkins said he saw his cross-town rivals and Sydney FC as the teams to beat this season.

Victory's goal is simpler: be there for the second-last weekend of the season at least.

"The main thing is we improve again on last year. Improvement for us is making the finals so that's our goal," he said.

"It goes without saying Tash [Dowie] is a quality striker. Over the last couple of years, we've looked at different ways to get the ball to her.

"Now from all areas of the front third, we've got creative players.

"There's a special feeling around the place. I'm excited and looking forward to it."

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