Round 15 of NPL Capital Football kicks off on Friday night as Monaro Panthers host Tuggeranong United.
Friday 1st August
Monaro Panthers v Tuggeranong United (Hawker Football Centre)
Tuggeranong United heads to Hobart on Monday morning for their long awaited and highly anticipated FFA Cup Round of 32 match against South Hobart and, as a consequence, their Round 15 National Premier Leagues: Capital Football match with Monaro Panthers has been brought forward to Friday evening and will be played under the floodlights at Hawker Football Centre.
It’s fair to say that the last few weeks leading into this match haven’t been the best for Tuggeranong with a string of defeats and some insipid displays seeing them slip gently out of finals reckoning. If they are to get back on track they will need to put in the sort of performance that gave Cooma Tigers a fright at Kambah in Round 14. Monaro Panthers will be in no mood to wish Tuggeranong a happy journey and send them off with three points in the bag, as Njegosh Popovich and his young side aim to record a fourth win of the season and put some distance between themselves and a resurgent Canberra City at the foot of the table.
It has been a tough year for the Panthers which have fluctuated in the quality of their games and the lack of depth has, similar to Tuggeranong, been an issue. Monaro will be eyeing this one off however with the knowledge that United may just have one eye on the forthcoming FFA Cup tie. Any lapses in concentration and the Panthers will pounce.
Sunday 3rd August
Canberra FC v Belconnen United (Deakin Stadium)
With only four matches to go the pressure is mounting at the summit of the National Premier Leagues: Capital Football table and two of the key protagonists meet at Deakin Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Canberra FC welcomes Belconnen United to their home ground.
It’s a must-win game for Canberra FC if they are to keep alive their hopes of catching Cooma Tigers at the top but with key players Ian Graham and Josip Jadric suspended and the likelihood of Adam Spaleta and Aiden Brunskill injured, it’s looking like a tough proposition for Andy Bernal’s team. His young charges were exposed somewhat in the 4-1 loss to the FFA COE last weekend and will need to recover from that setback if they are to prevent Belconnen from gaining the three points they also require.
A win for the Blue Devils would keep them close to Cooma and a chance for the championship crown, a loss would bring Canberra FC back into the fray but would, more likely, hand the Tigers a huge initiative heading into the final three rounds. With both teams crying out for the maximum points return we are expecting an absolute belter of a contest. The Blue Devils look favourites on paper, but you’d never discount Canberra FC on their home patch.
Cooma Tigers v Woden Valley (Nijong Oval)
League leaders Cooma Tigers could take another giant leap towards the League Championship which, if successful, would be the first League Title in the club’s history, by taking three points off Woden Valley at Nijong Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers took the full haul from a tricky looking match at Kambah last weekend, seeing off Tuggeranong United to win 3-0 but defensively showing signs of a weakness that could be exploited. That’s the good news for Woden, and it’s coupled with a confidence flowing through the side born from their exciting 2-1 win over Canberra Olympic last weekend.
The bad news is that this Cooma side is full of goals and self-belief. A mammoth ten-match winning streak has turned their season completely on its head and another win here, with Canberra FC and Belconnen United fighting themselves to a standstill at Deakin Stadium, could be the moment that the championship slips firmly into their grasp. Gaby Wilk has forged a team that creates chances and has the confidence in each other to play expansive football. Iain Elliott and Julian Borgna have come to the fore in recent weeks and the reintroduction of Robbie Cattanach, he played a half at Tuggeranong after missing a month through work commitments, will only make them even stronger. The Tigers are set to roar. Can Woden spoil the party?
Canberra Olympic v FFA COE (O’Connor Enclosed)
Canberra Olympic could make a giant leap towards a place in the semi-finals should they overhaul FFA COE at O’Connor Enclosed this weekend.
Olympic currently sits in fourth place with a four point cushion over Tuggeranong United and with the FFA COE ineligible for finals football, three points here would make it difficult for Tuggeranong to catch Olympic with games running out. Olympic missed a glorious chance to virtually put the issue to bed last weekend when they suffered a surprise 2-1 loss to Woden Valley at Kaleen Enclosed. That result completed a horror day for the club who also suffered surprise setbacks at under-20 and under-18 level.
They meet an FFA COE side high on confidence with the former AIS having thrashed Canberra FC 4-1 at the Institute in Round 14. They played with a swagger and purpose against FC who were reduced to nine men in the second half, the FFA COE pace and power deservedly giving them the three points from a feisty encounter. When the pair met in Round 6 it was FFA COE who emerged victorious from a close encounter, coming away with a 2-1 win. If they repeat the feat it could make for a nervous last few weeks of the season for Olympic.
Click here to view the ladder and leading goal scorers.