Zoran Glavinic has kept the dynasty alive and well at Canberra Croatia and, for the third season in a row, they are primed to win the League Championship. A win at Deakin against arch-rivals Belconnen United could seal the deal on Sunday.
It would reward another stellar season for Grace Gill, Brittany Palombi, Alice Churchill, and company, still unbeaten in the league in 2022. After claiming the Charity Shield in March, the players wearing the red and white chequered jerseys will aim for a triple in the postseason.
Facing the reigning champions, the Blue Devils will do their best to spoil the party, as Scott Conlon and his troops aim to end the series of five consecutive defeats in all competitions to Croatia. They conceded five times against the league leaders this season (1-3, 1-2), all five times in the first half and twice the fifteenth minute, so they know to tighten up early. A win would undoubtedly boost the Blue Devils’ confidence, 3 weeks before the Finals start.
Earlier that afternoon, the two other teams in the top four, Canberra Olympic and West Canberra Wanderers, meet in a game where the losers will be under pressure. Nicole Begg’s players have not given up on their premiership hope after losing to Croatia last week, but may now be focused on the finals, and bringing a potential first championship to O’Connor.
A win this weekend would almost ensure they finish the season second, with Belconnen trailing by six points. Janet King has not conceded against the Wanderers this season, a performance she intends to reiterate on Sunday.
The Wanderers’ consecutive wins over the Academy and Tuggeranong has kept Gungahlin six points away for now. The last three games of the season promise to be a thrilling indirect duel between the two squads, with West Canberra facing the top three, while the Gunners play Tuggeranong, Olympic and Croatia.
This Sunday at O’Connor, Rey Castro’s team meets the only outfit they have failed to score against this season. Tara Cannon, Hattie Cram and Ginger Oliver, the three main threats at West Canberra, will look to end the draught, and try to get at least a point in the crucial encounter.
Andrew Woodman’s Gungahlin United will keep an eye on that encounter while they challenge Tuggeranong United at Kambah. A Gunners’ positive result, accompanied by a Wanderers’ defeat would put Maddie Perceval and her squad three points away from the elusive fourth spot.
Forward Sharon Chao found the back of net in the past three games and could be leading the charge again this weekend, before Gungahlin faces the best two teams in the competition to end the season.
The Tuggies have a busy schedule ahead of them! After Canberra Croatia last night, they face another mainstay of the WNPL on the weekend, before playing Olympic midweek and the Academy next weekend. Paulo Romero’s team is off three goalless performances in the league but showed their usual defensive strength and solidarity despite the defeats.
Can Lauren Hall, the most prolific goal scorer in Tuggeranong, end that series and find the net a third time in as many encounters against Gungahlin? Her teammates count on it. With only two home games left, Tuggeranong want to finish on a high.
The Wagga City Wanderers are hosting Canberra United Academy, the only team they were able to defeat in 2022, on Sunday at Gissing Oval. Robert Tuksar’s players are hoping the reiterate the feat and get their first win at home in the meantime. Since the 2-1 win at Hawker, the Wanderers have not taken a single point, and have only managed to find the back of the nets once, last week in Gungahlin.
The Academy is also amid a losing streak, failing to get points in the past four games. Sarah West’s team has given a good account of themselves against Canberra Croatia and Gungahlin, only losing by the thinnest of margins, and will see the trip to the Riverina as an opportunity to get back to winning ways. Their last five goals the Academy scored came from five different players, showing the versatility and multitude of talent in their ranks.
Sunday 28 August
Canberra Croatia v Belconnen United (Deakin Stadium, 17:00)
Canberra Olympic v West Canberra Wanderers (O’Connor Enclosed, 14:30)
Tuggeranong United v Gungahlin United (Kambah 2, 14:30)
Wagga City Wanderers v Canberra United Academy (Gissing Oval, 14:30)
Words: Jeremy Magan