Canberra Croatia FC is enjoying a stellar season in the National Men’s Premier League, leading the way after nine rounds of the competition, but found themselves in a challenging encounter against Tigers FC at the AIS on Saturday.
The rivalry is especially intense in 2022 because of the Tigers winning the competition last year and Canberra Croatia finishing a close second. In their second meeting of the season the result was another 1-1 draw, replicating the result of the first round which rose frustration in both sides.
Assistant Coach for Canberra Croatia FC, Brad Waters, attributed the result to allowing the emotion of the team to blur the lines of focusing on playing a simple and effective game with Croatia striker Daniel Barac sent off and skipper Matt Grbesa spending ten minutes in the sin-bin.
“We have really high expectations, and part of the expectation that we do have is that we have control of our emotions when we play rather than getting it mixed with everything else that is going on,” Waters said.
“The first half was actually quite good. We were very happy with how we played, and we moved the ball around well. We were unlucky not to be a couple of goals ahead.
“The second half was a completely different story. We allowed our emotion to get the best of us. We kept talking to the referee when we should have just focused on our natural game.”
Being one of the most prestigious football clubs in the National Capital competition, Canberra Croatia always aims to attain three points each week so seeing the same result as the first round against the Cooma side was disappointing for Waters.
“Cooma and Canberra Croatia is always a big game, there’s always a lot of emotion but this is just one where two points were lost,” he said.
Waters hopes for numbers at training to utilise this time in preparation for next weekend for their clash against Monaro Panthers where they will strive to keep up the consistency and remain undefeated.
Although leading the competition on top of the ladder, Waters is ensuring Canberra Croatia do not get too comfortable and fall into the trap of settling to drop such an advantage early in the competition.
“We can’t be complacent and today is one of those examples. We weren’t clinical enough and it’s obviously something we can go back to the training pitch to work on but it’s a tight competition,” he said.
“We know Monaro play tomorrow and we play them next week, and obviously we are without Daniel Barac so we have a lot to work on and certainly can’t settle.”
Although Canberra Croatia are strong contenders for the 2022 Championship, Waters is remaining grounded and hopes his team can do the same.
“We’re in a really good position where we can look forward to the rest of this round and the next round as well, but we just need to take each week as it comes and not get too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“It’s just doing the simple things well and sticking to our principles. Hopefully today’s game is the impetus we need to keep our emotions in check so we can play well next game.”
Words: Sonia Emanuel