Capital Football NPL Round 7 Preview

We look ahead at what promises to be another action-packed round of NPL action from the nation's capital.

Sunday 25th May

Canberra FC v Canberra City (Deakin Stadium)

On paper this would appear to be a total miss-match. Its top versus bottom as Canberra FC welcomes Canberra City to Deakin Stadium for Round 7 of the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football. And only a brave man would bet against the red machine continuing their excellent start to the season. FC showed the other side of their style last week as they dogged out a 2-2 draw with Belconnen United levelling deep into stoppage time via a header from substitute Josip Jadric. It was a deserved point and keeps the league leaders at the top of the pile heading into the weekend. For City, who had the bye last week, the 2014 season has been a tough one. However, those in the know would suggest that the results will certainly turn for the better for a group of players who have tremendous belief in one another and, on their day, can certainly provide the sort of upset that can surprise the unwary. There-s simply too much ability in the City ranks for them not to click sooner rather than later and Canberra FC Head Coach Ray Junna will certainly not be taking them lightly. Both teams were in Federation Cup action in the week as Canberra City faced a potential banana skin against Narrabundah on Tuesday evening whilst Canberra FC met Monaro Panthers on Thursday. Recovery will therefore be an issue for both camps but its FC who will start heavy favourites.

Cooma Tigers v FFA COE (Nijong Oval)

After a disappointing beginning to the season when they suffered back-to-back losses, Cooma Tigers are right back in the title hunt following a brace of wins in succession, results which leaves them trailing the leaders Belconnen United and Canberra FC by seven points but with a pair of games in hand. And the Tigers welcome the FFA COE to Nijong Oval in a sharp frame of mind and ready to make it a hat-trick of victories to keep up the pressure on the top. Robbie Cattanach has been in majestic form this season having netted seven goals in three matches including six in his last two. His brace against Woden Valley in Round 6 once more rubber-stamped his importance to the cause and the FFA COE team will need to be on its toes to counter the threat of the in-form goal scorer and his team mates. The Centre of Excellence have themselves found some form in recent weeks with their success over Canberra Olympic last time put proving that they will be a real force in this competition during the season. A trip to Nijong will be another important step in the education of the youngsters at the Institute with the Tigers den certainly no place for the faint of heart particularly as the winter weather kicks in.

Canberra Olympic v Belconnen United (O-Connor Enclosed)

This could well be a week of deep soul-searching at O-Connor Enclosed as Canberra Olympic sets out to snap a three-game losing streak when they welcome joint league leaders Belconnen United to their home ground for a pivotal match in the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football competition. Olympic was beaten for a third time in a row in Round 6, the FFA COE coming out on top in their match-up, shattering the early season optimism of two successive victories. And it doesn-t get any easier for Frank Cachia and his group as the rampant Blue Devils arrive. Belconnen was seconds away from a major victory over Canberra FC in the showpiece match of the round last weekend when only a 94th minute equaliser denied them three points. As such they will be full of confidence and swagger as they meet an Olympic team who put paid to their title chances last term. It-s an enigma as to why Olympic has failed to fire after their promising start to the season but it-s one that Cachia and his coaching staff need to solve if last term-s Grand Final winners are going to be in a position to repeat the feat in 2014. Gaining three points against a side as savvy as the Blue Devils would be a decent start but to do so they will need to find an answer to a well-oiled attacking machine that is built on a solid defensive foundation.

Monaro Panthers v Woden Valley (Riverside Stadium)

In the logjam that is currently initiating in the battle for the top four, this fixture between Monaro Panthers and Woden Valley at the Riverside Stadium in Round 7 of the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football takes on added significance. The winners will keep in touch with the group in contention whilst the vanquished will feel an opportunity has slipped. Looking at current form you-d have to install the Panthers as slight favourites to take the points however there is the small matter of a midweek Federation Cup fixture with Canberra FC to take into consideration with Monaro having the unenviable task of trying to inflict a first defeat of the season on the Canberra powerhouse ahead of this clash. With that in mind team selection will be interesting as Njegosh Popovich aims to get the best out of a group of young charges that have performed admirably in recent weeks. With leading scorer Thomas James suspended the onus may well be on the returning Pepe Varga to lead the line, he stamped his return to the club with a goal in the under-20 loss to Tuggeranong last weekend and looks in sharp form. For Woden they will need to find the form that saw them beat Canberra Olympic 2-0 a fortnight ago coming into this game off the back of a loss to Cooma. They have the talent in the squad, but do they have the self-belief?