WA soccer’s league champion could be decided this weekend as Perth SC chase their first title in five years.
A victory over second-placed Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday, August 20, would give Perth an unassailable four-point lead heading into the final regular round.
The team finishing top of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues WA will represent the state in the National Finals Series, which kicks off on the weekend of September 17.
WA’s champion will take on Tasmania’s top team, Devonport Strikers, in the first round of the national knockout series, which brings together the champions from eight Member Federations.
Perth coach Ramon Falzon, who took over from former Perth Glory captain Gareth Naven at the end of May, is taking nothing for granted heading into the match against Inglewood.
“We always make sure that we reinforce on a weekly basis that no matter where we stand on the ladder the one that matters is the ladder at the end of the season,” Falzon said. “So we never sit back and admire where we stand.
“The players show a bit of excitement and they know the three points this week are worth more than just three points. But in terms of preparation and being focused on the game, nothing changes. It’s business as usual.”
Inglewood’s grip on top spot slipped last week when they lost to Subiaco, leaving the door ajar for Perth to pounce.
A 3-2 win over Cockburn City, inspired by a double from star striker and the league’s leading scorer Gustavo Catarcione, has given Perth a one-point lead and pole position in the race for the title.
Perth last finished top of the table in 2005, although their most recent championship victory came under a previous format when they beat Sorrento in the 2011 Grand Final.
Inglewood coach Taki Nicolaidis, who led Perth into the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 last season and a second-place finish in the NPLWA, has been reminded that his club’s only title win came exactly 20 years ago.
“Ultimately it might not be us or Perth that wins it,” Nicolaidis said of the title race. “Mathematically any team down to sixth can still win it – depending on results.
“But we’ve got an opportunity in the next 90 minutes to get us a result that will keep us in the race. And that’s been our mindset this week.”
Seven teams are in the running to take part in The West Australian Top Four Cup, while a draw between Perth and Inglewood will give Floreat Athena genuine title hopes should they beat Bayswater City at Litis Stadium on Sunday.
Sorrento, who have a game in hand, Bayswater and ECU Joondalup are not yet out of the title race, although goal difference is not in their favour.
Stirling Lions will aim to keep their The West Australian Top Four Cup hopes alive when they take on Armadale.
Saturday, August 20
Perth SC v Inglewood United (Dorrien Gardens, 3pm)
ECU Joondalup v Cockburn City (ECU Football Stadium, 3pm)
Balcatta v Perth Glory (Grindleford Reserve, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Armadale (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Subiaco v Sorrento (Rosalie Park, 3pm)
Sunday, August 21Floreat Athena v Bayswater City (E&D Litis Stadium, 3pm)