NPL2 Finals Week 1 Preview
Qualifying Final | Canberra White Eagles v O’Connor Knights | Sunday, 4:30pm @ Woden Park
Canberra White Eagles and the O’Connor Knights will meet in a monster Qualifying Final matchup on Sunday night, looking to book a spot in the inaugural NPL2 Capital Football Grand Final.
Eagles took out the Premiership and booked a spot in the Qualifier with a massive 6-1 win against Brindabella on the final day of the season a fortnight ago and they will be riding that wave into a matchup against their storied rivals.
Ohio Asikhia and Zinelabiddine El-Jammoudi both scored braces in the round 18 match and will be key players in this matchup, but equally important will be how the Eagles fare at the other end of the park. Against O’Connor back in round 17 they were winning 2-0 with 10 minutes to play before conceding twice late to setup the enthralling final round of matches, and will need to avoid shipping goals in that manner here. Outside of ANU Graeme Plath’s side have had the best backline across the season, conceding just 15 goals, but in O’Connor they once more face a team with plenty of attacking weapons.
The Knights did enough to beat ANU in round 18 but not quite enough to claim the Premiership, and have a shot at revenge this weekend. They knocked off White Eagles 1-0 earlier in the season in a thrilling encounter, and this one is set to be another instalment of that series. Knights will be without Brandon Hawker after he was red carded in the round 18 win, and Kynan Dodd will miss the outing through accumulation of yellow cards. Both of those players will be key outs for the Knights and Miro Trninic will have some shuffling to do.
The winner will get another week off next week having booked their spot in the big dance, while the beaten side will be aware of who they are up against in the Preliminary Final.
Elimination Final | ANU FC v Queanbeyan City | Sunday, 2pm @ Woden Park
ANU entered round 18 in first spot and finished it in third and will take on Queanbeyan City in the Elimination Final at Woden Park on Sunday afternoon. The 2-0 loss to O’Connor snapped a seven game undefeated run that began after their round nine loss to the same side earlier in the season. They have won both clashes against this weekend’s opponents though, including a 1-0 win a few weeks back and a 5-1 thumping of the then-reigning Premiers back in the first half of the season. Rowan Peterkin and Andrew Manley will be integral if both play as they sit in first and third in the Golden Boot standings, and Peterkin netted a hat-trick in the afore mentioned round seven win. Jim Dawson’s side will arguably be the favourites here but will need to be wary of a Queanbeyan side who gathered plenty of steam in the second half of the season.
Queanbeyan City collected just eight points from their first eight games, enduring a horror run to begin the season after collecting the Premiership during the last campaign. But now they find themselves in the Elimination Final after a stunning second half of the season drew them right back into contention and they get the chance to throw a spanner in the works of ANU’s run to another Grand Final. Last year they went out in straight sets after finishing top and will want to avoid an early exit to at least have a shot at silverware. They will need to buck the struggles they have had against the ladder leaders this year though if they are to book a spot in the Preliminary Final next weekend.