Thursday, January 10, 2013
Finals spots on the line in W-League
By Pete Smith
Canberra United remain confident of reaching the W-League finals despite facing the prospect of becoming the first reigning champions to miss the playoffs.After an undefeated campaign last season to claim their maiden title, Canberra have endured some erratic form and now must beat leaders Brisbane Roar in this weekend's final round to shore up fourth spot, with Sydney FC just a point adrift in fifth.One of either Sydney or Canberra will miss the finals for the first time with the pair, along with Brisbane, having reached the playoffs in all four seasons of the W-League.For Canberra a tough challenge away to the two-time champions has been made even harder with the team facing a short turnaround from their match against Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday, which had been postponed from last weekend.Canberra's ability to recover from their midweek exertions will be challenged even further by extreme heat and humidity predicted for the Queensland capital on Saturday.Football Federation Australia has brought forward the match to a 10am start, having initially been scheduled for a mid-afternoon kick-off.Despite the daunting challenge Canberra skipper Ellie Brush says her side have the belief to overcome Brisbane on their own turf following their midweek return to form in a 5-0 win over Western Sydney."Confidence is very high in the camp after a good win and five goals against a strong team," Brush said."We have come here to Brisbane to do one job and that is to win and claim our spot in the finals."We have played really good football this season, even better I think than last year. We haven't had quite as much luck. We still have it in us to go on and do what we did last year."Brisbane have everything to play for with victory against Canberra securing the premiership for finishing top of the regular season ladder.The Roar are hitting form at the right time and are on a six-match undefeated run culminating in an impressive 2-0 win against arch-rivals Sydney FC last weekend."Everyone is hitting form and the injured players from earlier in the season are finding their feet and playing some good football," said Brisbane coach Belinda Wilson.However, should the Roar stumble against Canberra both Melbourne Victory and third-placed Perth Glory have the opportunity to leapfrog into top spot.Both teams will be hopeful of collecting all three points from their respective matches against the bottom two sides, Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United.Sydney FC tackle Western Sydney Wanderers, for whom long-serving Matildas striker Sarah Walsh will play her final senior match after announcing her retirement.