We cast our eye over the crucial Capital Football NPL clashes this weekend.
Round 6 - Preview
Saturday 17th May
Belconnen United v Canberra FC (McKellar Park, kick-off 5pm)
A blockbuster of the highest order is in store at McKellar Park as Belconnen United meets Canberra FC in Round 6 of the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football. If anyone can bring the red machine to a juddering halt it would be the Blue Devils but the hosts know that they are in for a challenge and a half as they attempt to de-rail a team that has netted twenty-four goals in its first four games of the season. Leading that charge has been Daniel Bennett who has been in irrepressible form with ten goals already to his name including back-to-back hat-tricks. Belconnen however aren-t shy of a goal themselves having bagged seventeen in their four matches including seven last week in a remarkable hammering of Canberra City. Dustin Wells contributed three of those goals and his habit of finding the target on the big occasion could well be the difference here, ably supported as he is by Michael Taurasi and the possibility of a league debut for Marty Raines. There-s certainly a belief in the Blue Devils camp that they can defeat Canberra FC and the visitors are sure to show them the respect that they deserve. With goals not an issue for both teams, hopes are high for a match for the ages in what should be a wonderful showcase for the top end of the competition in Canberra and a great way to kick-off the weekend under the lights on Saturday night.
Sunday 18th May
FFA COE v Canberra Olympic (AIS Grass Fields, kick-off 3pm)
FFA COE returns home this weekend as they take on Canberra Olympic at the AIS Grass Fields in Round 6 of the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football competition smarting from a 1-6 reverse to a rampant Canberra FC last weekend. It was a salutary lesson for the youngsters from the Centre of Excellence about the quality in this league at the top level and no doubt will prove to be a valuable learning tool for Tony Vidmar as he exposes this new crop of players to the differing playing conditions in the NPL. What is not in doubt is the quality in the squad and they are sure to give reigning Grand Final winners Canberra Olympic a strong run for their money in this fixture.
The last fortnight has not been kind to Olympic who have suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Tuggeranong United and Woden Valley, fixtures that they would have targeted to maintain their challenge at the top of the ladder. But some largely uninspired personal performances have seen a couple of crucial losses which has left Olympic playing catch up to the established Canberra FC and Belconnen United at the top. There is enough depth in the Olympic squad to rectify their problems but this could be another stiff test for them.
Woden Valley v Cooma Tigers (Kaleen Enclosed, kick-off 3pm)
Two weeks ago this match looked to be a very different proposition. Both Woden Valley and Cooma Tigers were struggling for form and had not picked up a point. However, when the pair meets at Kaleen Enclosed on Sunday afternoon both will be full of confidence having shrugged off their zero points tag in excellent fashion. Woden was superb in holding off Canberra Olympic at O-Connor Enclosed with Lukas Cole grabbing a double and looking to be back to the kind of form that he showed in his early days at Olympic before re-joining Woden in the off-season. Cooma meanwhile was clinical in attack at Nijong Oval as Robbie Cattanach went on a personal goal-scoring spree, outlining his importance to Gaby Wilk-s team, with four goals of stunning quality. Having Cattanach fit and in form for the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football challenge is arguably the most important aspect of the Tigers build-up. But it was illuminating to see them approach the match against United with plenty of width as Lianel Lauper and Iain Elliott hugged the touch-lines. And with an effervescent Goran Josifovski galloping around in a free-role, the Tigers showed their claws. Closing down Cattanach-s space will be critical for Woden if they are to continue their upward rise.
Tuggeranong United v Monaro Panthers (Kambah 2-1, kick-off 3pm)
Which Tuggeranong United will turn up for this match? Which Monaro Panthers will turn up for this match? The simple answer is that we just don-t know as Tuggeranong welcomes the Panthers to Kambah 2 for what should be an open and entertaining encounter. United was limp in the opening forty-five minutes against Cooma Tigers last weekend, a far cry from the team that beat Canberra Olympic in a five-goal thriller in Round 4 only seven days previously. Recreating the mood that permeated the squad that day is key for Tuggeranong if they are to see off a Monaro team that appears to be slowly finding its feet after a difficult opening to the season. A 3-1 win over, an admittedly Robbie Cattanach free Cooma Tigers, was a superb result and an indication that on their day Njegosh Popovich-s team have the necessary class and quality to beat any team. Certainly in Thomas James they have a striker on the top of his game with his movement and ability to take on defenders the focal point of the Panthers attack. United meanwhile needs to find a way to get the best out of their squad with Adam Casey largely isolated up front at Nijong Oval. Their passing game was largely absent for the first half of the loss to Cooma and Steve Forshaw will be keen on getting that right if they are to cause Monaro trouble in the final third.