Brisbane Strikers coach Kevin A’Herne-Evans says Brisbane football fans should expect his team to be up against extremely accomplished opposition when they take on Canberra Olympic in their first foray into the PlayStation 4 NPL Finals Series.
As always, A’Herne-Evans has done his homework on his team’s opposition, who have not only won the Capital Football Premiership but also its grand final while storming into the quarter-finals of the Westfield FFA Cup .
What he has learned about Olympic suggests that any if any NPL Queensland followers harbour preconceptions about their league being superior to its ACT counterpart they might be in for a surprise.
“From the footage that we’ve gathered on them and the information that we’ve got they are a team that have an ability to win a game in a number of different scenarios,” A’Herne-Evans said after training his team on Thursday night.
“They can soak up a lot of pressure and hit a team on the counter-attack, they are good at set plays and they’ve got a top, top player in Robbie Cattenach up front who is a really accomplished finisher and just so clever. He drives at the centre backs, finds little pockets of space and drives at defenders into the box and wins a lot of free kicks and penalties from that ability.”
A’Herne-Evans said Olympic deploy an effective combination of pragmatism and flair.
“You can really see the strong futsal background to a number of their players because they are really happy one v one in tight spaces,” A’Herne-Evans continued.
“And defensively they’ve got a lot of good experience there. They’d be classed as traditional defenders – they’re not too adventurous in what they do, they just do the basics really well.
“They win the headers, win the tackles and they get the ball to their creative players as quickly as possible knowing that their wide players have good delivery for the man with the best name in football, Philippe Bernabo-Madrid, who is a real handful. Their front two, Bernabo-Madrid and Cattenach, have scored a lot of goals between them.”
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Meanwhile, Strikers' teenage goalkeeper Michael Weier will draw on the advice of some of the nation’s finest glovemen when the Queensland club launches its PlayStation 4 NPL Finals Series assault.
The 19-year-old has come to prominence as one of Queensland’s brightest young goalkeeping prospects over the past two seasons - nudging out former Hyundai A-League shot-stoppers Michael Turnbull and Sebastian Usai to man the Strikers’ goalmouth.
He said he has learned important lessons from both as he seeks to push his case to make the step-up to professional football.
“Seb has played at some of the highest levels at Blackburn and he is one of the best goalkeepers you will see in the country,” Weier explained of his current teammate.
“To train and learn from him and see what he does is really a great experience because there is nothing better than learning from big name players like him and Turnbull.”
Just last week, Weier was hand-picked to join Melbourne City on their pre-season tour of Townsville – which saw him train alongside former Danish international and English Premier League star Thomas Sørensen.
“He was telling me more about how to deal with nerves, what it was like playing those big games and how to prepare and recover well.”
“But the technique of the European goalkeepers is a little bit different in terms of catching the ball through the chest and that was interesting too.”
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PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2016 Finals Series – Elimination Final
Brisbane Strikers FC v Canberra Olympic FC
Saturday 17 September | 6:00PM
Perry Park, Brisbane
Tickets - $10 (adults), $5 (concession), Free (Under 16’s)
Watch the LIVE stream at www.nationalpremierleagues.com.au