The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Finals are finally here and four teams will take to the pitch this weekend as they fight to continue their finals campaigns.
The Elimination Semi-Final will see one team out of finals contention, while the winner will take on the loser of the Preliminary Semi-Final.
The winner of the Preliminary Semi-Final will progress to take on Sydney Olympic in the Major Semi-Final.
Elimination Semi-Final: Marconi Stallions FC v APIA Leichhardt FC
5:00pm, Saturday 6th August, Marconi Stadium
Marconi will come up against APIA Leichhardt for the second Italian Derby in two weeks.
This time around Marconi will have the home-ground advantage as they host their rivals at ‘The Palace’ on Saturday evening.
The Marconi faithful will relish the opportunity to settle the score against the Inner West side, with both teams having won one of their matchups this season – Marconi with a 4-1 victory in Round 10, and APIA with a 2-0 victory in Round 21.
After defender Roberto Speranza was sent off in the Round 20 clash between the two, he will sit out this one, while his replacement Zach Cairncross left the field in Round 22 with a hamstring injury, leaving his selection in doubt.
If Cairncross isn’t fit to play in the Elimination Semi-Final, Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis will have to lean on his team to play out of their preferred position.
With three goals from players outside their usual goal scorers in their last match, Marconi will have some extra confidence and momentum, especially since losing attacker Charles Lokolingoy.
APIA Leichhardt’s defeat to Sydney United 58 in Round 21 will have them hungry to bounce back from disappointment, and a high-intensity clash might be exactly what they need to bring out the best in their squad.
With plenty of experience on the park from goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, captain Adrian Ucchino, the Symons brothers and Franco Parisi, APIA know the importance of this match having been in three of the last four grand finals.
Their only win from the last eight games was against Marconi, so while they haven’t been in the best form heading into the finals, they’ll know they’re capable of coming out on top in the match.
It’s do-or-die for both teams as they must win to continue their finals campaign, so who will go through to the Minor Semi-Final?
Preliminary Semi-Final: Manly United FC v Blacktown City FC
3:00pm, Sunday 7th August, Cromer Park
The boys from Blacktown will make the trip to the Northern Beaches to take on Manly United in the Preliminary Semi-Final on Sunday afternoon.
In what will be an exciting day of NSW football, with the Waratah Cup Final to be played beforehand, the match will see one team go through to take on Sydney Olympic for a chance in the Grand Final.
The last time the two came up against each other, Blacktown thumped Manly with a 6-1 victory, a result Manly will be hoping to repay in this clash. Blacktown also won their first clash of the 2022 season with a 3-1 victory and they will be hoping to make it three from three.
Blacktown’s Daniel Collins was sent from the field in their Round 21 loss to Olympic and will miss this match and their next, leaving Mark Crittenden to adjust his squad, although their formation of three defenders at the back gives them a bit more flexibility to adjust their defensive line.
Travis Major and Danny Choi are back in action for Blacktown City, having returned to the club in recent weeks and will add some valuable attacking prowess to an already talented squad.
Manly Captain James Oates has been a shining star for the Northern Beaches outfit this season, alongside Brazilian striker Bruno Mendes and Seiya Kambayashi, giving Adam Griffiths plenty of talent to work with.
Both teams have won the Championship without winning the Premiership in recent years so the fight will not be out of their depth and luckily they’ll get two shots to progress either way.