Albert Butler Park will be full of energy this Saturday as NPL NSW Men’s Premiers Wollongong Wolves will lock horns with the NPL Capital Football’s best in Canberra Olympic as round 1 of the 2019 NPL Finals Series takes centre stage.
Luke Wilkshire and his troops have been on hiatus for the last two weeks after winning the Premiership by a margin of nine points, only to be bundled out of the NPL NSW Finals Series after successive losses to overall Champions APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Sydney United 58.
Canberra Olympic, after winning their respective Premiership, also suffered the same fate as the Wolves as they were knocked out of the finals series which was last weekend won by Gungahlin United.
Since their shock Finals departure, the Wolves have been busily training and playing friendly clashes against A-League opposition, preparing for their big NPL Finals Series clash against a hungry Canberra Olympic outfit coached by Frank Cachia.
Going into the match as clear favourites, the Wolves are hoping they can represent NSW with pride by bringing back the NPL Finals Trophy to the state as well as locking down a round of 32 FFA Cup spot in 2020.
One key figure that will surely be in and amongst the action is Wolves’ star attacker and recently crowned Gold Medal Player of the Year, Thomas James.
The 26-year-old had an outstanding season and was rewarded for his efforts at the recent Gold Medal dinner not only scooping the Player of the Year award but the Golden Boot as well.
No stranger to playing opposition in Canberra, James was this year plucked from the NPL ACT competition as he played for Olympic’s rivals Canberra FC in 2018.
Asked what his thoughts were going into this match, James was full of confidence.
“I can see us breezing past Canberra Olympic,” he told Football NSW.
“This is where it gets tricky, but I see us in the NPL Finals taking on Campbelltown City.”
Beaming from a solid year, James stated his high hopes for the club’s run in the NPL Finals Series and even mentioned how the actual NPL Finals Series match will play out.
“The NPL Finals Series will end dramatically as we will score a last-minute winner courtesy of Taylor McDonald who will be on the end of a sublime cross by me,” he cheekily stated.
Canberra Olympic by no means will be a pushover and do possess a few stars of their own, one in particular being former Australian Youth International Kofi Danning who will look at stinging the net on Saturday.
He, along with prolific marksman Stephen Domenici, young gun Nick Faust, Daniel Sparrow and Nik Popovich will be thriving on the ‘underdogs’ tag in hoping they can stun the Wolves.
The winner of this clash that kicks off at 3pm will face the winner of either Victorian top guns Heidelberg United or Football West’s Perth SC in the semi-final with the other matches seeing Maitland battling Devonport Strikers and Lions FC taking on Campbelltown City.
Saturday 21st September
Wollongong Wolves v Canberra Olympic
Albert Butler Park – 3pm
*To be streamed live on www.nationalpremierleagues.com.au