A clash of titans is on the menu this Sunday in Women’s National Premier League, between the only two undefeated teams in the competition as Canberra Croatia crosses civic to face Canberra Olympic on their turf, kick-off at 2.30pm for the third act of one of the duels of the season.
After a draw earned in the dying seconds at Deakin Stadium in Round 4, and a loss conceded in the Federation Cup Semi-Final, Zoran Glavinic and his troops travel to O’Connor with a certain sense of comfort. The emphatic victory over Tuggeranong United, combined with the points dropped by Olympic, gave the reigning champions a four-point cushion over their runners-up. In other words, they can afford a misstep.
The gap will likely be a source of motivation at the other end. Nicole Begg knows a loss at home on Sunday would be costly. The best defence in the league have their work cut out for them against the most prolific attack after ten rounds, but against Canberra Croatia, dominating the midfield is always the hardest task. We are only halfway through the season, but it already feels like the League Championship title is on the line on Sunday.
The Wagga City Wanderers finally took off after ten rounds, bringing their first point back from Melrose Synthetic last week. They will use this great confidence boost when they host Gungahlin United on Sunday.
The first clean sheet is encouraging for the players of the Riverina, but it is also their sixth game without scoring this season. With half a monkey off their back, the Wanderers now want their first win, and to get a result, they need to sort out their goalscoring woes
The Gunners saved a point late in the game against the Academy but are still in the middle of their worst season in recent times. The team coached by Nick Van Aalst last weekend looks its old self at times, with sequences of passing football that would put any team off balance.
Other times though, the lack of collective effort and coordinated press and/or attack is obvious. It is a group that needs a bit more work before even thinking about the finals. The trip to the Riverina is a must win for Gungahlin United.
Tuggeranong United host the battle of the Valley against the West Canberra Wanderers on Sunday and are hoping to end their poor run of four defeats and 22 goals conceded. Paulo Romero’s side conceded three against the Wanderers in round four, but have grown into themselves since, improving in all parts of the fields.
It will take a special performance for the Tuggies to get a point against West Canberra, although you would not put it past them. The Wanderers have dropped points in the last two games, away against the Academy and more surprisingly at home against Wagga City this weekend.
Still third and a point clear of the Blue Devils, the team coach by Rey Castro needs to restart the engine if they want to keep the pressure on Olympic and Croatia. On a positive note, this Sunday was their first clean sheet since round four, a performance they wish to reiterate in Kambah.
Belconnen United visits their neighbours to end the game week, facing Canberra United Academy at Hawker Football Centre. The Blue Devils want to capitalize on the good point taken against Olympic and build on it to reduce the gap between them and the top two teams.
Talia Backhouse was instrumental in the first match, scoring twice, either side of the half time break. She is on for a tough job on Sunday, against an Academy midfield that has gone from strength to strength in recent weeks.
Sarah West and her girls have not won a game since round six but offered some good performances against West Canberra and Gungahlin. The draw against the latter this weekend, conceded late, did feel like a missed opportunity to edge closer to the top four.
A marquee win against the Blue Devils would do the Academy a world of good, given they have only taken one out of 15 points possible against the top four in 2022. Such result would also allow the Hawker Stadium residents to come back five points behind their opponents.
Sunday 26 June
Canberra Olympic v Canberra Croatia (O’Connor Enclosed, 14:30)
Wagga City Wanderers v Gungahlin United (Gissing Oval, 14:30)
Tuggeranong United v West Canberra Wanderers (Kambah 2, 14:30)
Canberra United Academy v Belconnen United (Hawker Football Centre, 17:10)
|3||West Canberra Wanderers||10||6||2||2||0||20|
|5||Canberra United Academy||10||3||2||5||-6||11|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||10||0||1||9||-64||1|
Words: Jeremy Magan
Image: Canberra Times