PS4NPL Preliminary Final Preview
Saturday 2nd September, 4pm @ Deakin Stadium
Follow: Live blog on CapitalFootball.com.au
Do-or-die for the season, it’s that simple this weekend. Canberra Olympic and Gungahlin United meet Saturday afternoon in a blockbuster Preliminary Final, to decide Belconnen United’s opponent in the PS4 NPL Grand Final.
Gungahlin United progressed here after a convincing 3-0 win in their do-or-die semi-final against Canberra FC, and centre-back Jack Green said that the win had delighted the team.
“We’re ecstatic.,” he said.
“All very happy that we got the win. We went in with a game plan on Sunday afternoon, having worked through the week about how we wanted to play.
“And how it unfolded on the weekend was exactly how we planned.”
United will bring momentum into this clash, and confidence according to Green, knowing that they have challenged last season’s treble winners already this season. The 3-3 draw between the sides in Round 16 came after United lead for much of the game, and was part of a strong rebound period after a 4-0 loss in Round 14 to Tigers threatened to derail their finals hopes.
But while Green said that a win here would be huge for the club itself, they must not get ahead of themselves, and remain wary of the danger posed by Olympic.
“It would mean the world to the club and the players,” he said.
“We have worked so hard all season, never stopped believing in ourselves.
“We went through a rough patch mid-season, but we’ve always had confidence that we could be in the top four and we’re taking it game by game, and this just another hurdle we have to get over.”
“Defensively we need to be very aware,” Green added.
“They have got quality players with Stephen Domenici and Robbie Cattanach. They have got very creative players out wide with the likes of Jeremy Habtemariam. So defensively we have to be on our guard.”
Olympic’s semi-final loss in a shootout to Belconnen was followed up by Tuesday night’s clash with the Newcastle Jets, but Captain and Goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou said he had no regrets about the scheduling of the extra match.
“It was great,” he said.
“We rested a few players but as Frank [Cachia] says, what would you rather do? Play an A-League team or train?”
That loss to United came partly thanks to an 88th minute penalty for the victors that pulled them back level, after what was mostly an even match. Olympic fell behind in the first half and will want to avoid doing that again tomorrow, but otherwise Konstantinou believes there is not much to change.
“I don’t think we did much wrong on the weekend,” he said.
“We have just got to go out and do the same thing we do every week.”
Having not lost since round two in the league, last Saturday’s defeat was something of a streak-breaker, in the toughest fashion too.
“The boys were a bit disappointed to go down in a penalty shootout last weekend,” Konstantinou said.
“So they are going be up for it tomorrow.
Stopping United’s multi-pronged attack will be a must for Olympic, but they are not without threats themselves. As Green mentioned they have a number of potent forwards, with a deep squad allowing firepower to come off the bench too. But at the back Frank Cachia will be sweating on the health of Nick and Tim after injuries in recent weeks, and United will likely target the new look backline if they do not play.
Olympic have been the most consistent across the season, while United are on a strong run at the moment, and this clash is sure to be a belter with the season of both teams relying on it.