PS4 NPL Grand Final Preview
The final day of the 2017 Playstation4 National Premier League Men’s Capital Football is here. After 18 rounds of the regular season and two weeks of finals, only Belconnen United and Canberra Olympic remain and are set to do battle at McKellar Park.
The match will mark the fourth time they have met this season, with the teams separated by just two goals at the conclusion of regulation across those matches. It pits the two most devastating attacks in the league, and two of the tightest defences against one another, in a rematch of the Qualifying Semi-Final two weeks ago. United struck first in that match, as they have done in all three matches so far, before rescinding that lead to a determined Olympic side.
Head Coach Dean Ugrinic said that United are excited ahead of the big match, but that they need to be wary of some key Olympic elements.
“It’s a daunting prospect, but an exciting one all the same,” he said.
“Guys like Robbie Cattanach and Stephen Domenici, they can really hurt you.
The penalty shootout win over Olympic in the Qualifying semi-final was a big win for United, and Ugrinic described it as something of overcoming a hurdle, and had big praise for young keeper Finn Jurak coming into this match.
“Psychologically, it was a hurdle that we haven’t being able to jump over the last couple of years,” Ugrinic said.
“Certainly in that one there it gives us a little bit of confidence, knowing we can get past a quality side like Olympic.”
With essentially a full strength squad to utilise, save for the suspended Leo Mazis, United come in to the match in a strong position. Ugrinic said that the team had taken a changed training schedule heading into the Grand Final with a lower-intensity week followed by ramping up preparations this week.
Scoring first once more will be key to a good result for Belconnen here, forcing Olympic to chase the game on a big stage. Olympic themselves showed the benefit of scoring early when Nathan Megic opened their account after just a couple of minutes against Gungahlin in the Preliminary Final, and both sides will look to do that at McKellar.
While Olympic have taken a different path to the final this year than last year, Frank Cachia said that there’s no reason to suggest United are better off for having a spare week to rest in between matches.
“2015 we came through all the semi-finals and got there [the title], last year we had the week off and got there,” he said.
“So I guess by about 7:30 on Saturday night we’ll know.”
That loss in the semi-final was more frustrating than painful according to Cachia, noting that the side was only moments away from claiming the match inside 90 minutes.
Normally so good at closing out those tight matches, the equalising goal was almost an anomaly for his side, but Cachia admitted that his side needs to be prepared for these big games.
“I think it frustrated us more than anything, the game was there to be won, and we were a minute away from winning it,” he said.
“Things can go wrong on the big occasion.”
“On any given day, any team can lift to an occasion and that’s what we’ve been dealing with for the past 18 months.
Everyone has targeted Olympic as a team to lift against.”
Olympic will be without Nick Bobolas at the back once more, meaning Bernard Rene or Adrian Macor may jump into that wide spot. The side is otherwise full strength and likely to be a replica of the one that started so well against Gungahlin last weekend. If the treble-chasers can control the midfield from the beginning here they will be tough to beat, with Daniel Colvertaldo and Robbie Cattanach capable of running the show.
The results between the two sides so far speak for themselves, and with the two highest scorers in the league pitted against each other, there is potential for plenty of goals. Domenici scored a brace on his last outing here back in Round 13, and shutting him down will be of the utmost importance for the Belconnen defence.