Belconnen United will be the first team on the pitch this weekend again, hosting Gungahlin United at McKellar Park. Scott Conlon and his troops hit the ground running and secured a convincing win away last Friday against Tuggeranong and they will want a success at home to put pressure on Canberra Olympic and Canberra Croatia, 24-hours before their fixtures.
The Gunners’ game was called off last week, so Pat Mills sat for his first official match on Gungahlin’s bench on Thursday in the Federation Cup. His players could not go through to the Semi-Finals this time, losing 0-3 to Olympic, but won’t have time to dwell on it, with already an important trip to McKellar only two days later. A win away for their first game of the season would send a clear message to the rest of the competition.
The West Canberra Wanderers are back in business this week after Matchday 1 was postponed. On their home turf, the players coached by Rey Castro hope to start the season on a high as they welcome Canberra United Academy.
There was plenty of pace and intensity against Canberra Croatia during the Charity Shield, a good sign of things to come. This weekend match-up might have some extra flavour to it. In Daisy Canavan, Demi and Stephanie Nikias, Tara Cannon, the Wanderers count in their ranks a few ex-Academy players ready to get one over their former club.
The Academy suffered an emphatic defeat in Deakin for the launch of their campaign. There were still some positives to take for Sarah West, from her players’ ability to play possession football to their energy and pace upfront. Jaya Bowman and Sofia Christopherson already affirmed themselves as the leaders of this young squad. The duel at Melrose between two teams with similar traits promises a very entertaining afternoon.
Canberra Olympic started their campaign with panache, scoring 13 goals in the Riverina. Nicole Begg and her army of new signings took no prisoners on Sunday and are already sitting at the top of the ladder, as well as being the first team qualified for the Federation Cup Semi-Finals. They intend to confirm their brilliant start at O’Connor on Sunday when they host last season’s wooden spoonists, Tuggeranong United.
The Tuggies showed a lot of spirit against Belconnen for the season opener. Lara Mustaine and Karen Milewska already proved they will play an important part in Paulo Romero’s plans this season. The trip to O’Connor is not something teams will look forward to in 2022 but facing this Olympic squad early might be an advantage Tuggeranong need to make the most of.
Canberra Croatia is hosting for the second week in a row to start 2022. After Sunday’s show of force against the Academy, Zoran Glavinic’s troops host Wagga City Wanderers at Deakin. The reigning Champions are not known to underestimate their opponents and will be keen to keep their perfect start of the season going. Nat Vasta and her defence are yet to record a clean sheet and will hope Sunday is the day for it.
Sam Gray had to make do with an incomplete squad last week when the Wanderers of the Riverina hosted NPLW’s new scarecrow, Canberra Olympic. The trip to the capital should be an opportunity for Wagga City to give us a better idea of what to expect.
A win over the reigning champions would not be an objective as such for the Wanderers, but reediting their tour de force of 2021, when they more than held their own for over an hour in Deakin, would already be a boost of confidence for the young squad.
Saturday 9 April
Belconnen United v Gungahlin United (McKellar Park, 15:00)
Sunday 10 April
West Canberra Wanderers v Canberra United Academy (Melrose Synthetic, 12:45)
Canberra Olympic v Tuggeranong United (O’Connor Enclosed, 14:30)
Canberra Croatia v Wagga City Wanderers (Deakin Stadium, 14:30)
MATCHES ARE STREAMED LIVE ON NPL.TV
Words: Jeremy Magan