Sydney Olympic are the toast of Sydney town after landing the elusive NSW NPL Premiers – Championship double on Sunday, at Leichhardt Oval, when they defeated main rival Apia Leichhardt 3-1.
Olympic’s championship crown was well deserved, with the team performing strongly all over the park to lead all the way, almost from the start of Sunday’s grand final against a strong Apia side.
With Spanish import Alejandro Sanchez spearheading the attack, Olympic always looked a threat going forward. Often lurking with intent on the shoulder of the last Apia defender, the dynamic Spaniard scored twice in the final and was instrumental in the opening goal of the game. That came when Olympic playmaker Max Burgess unlocked the Apia defence with a pass which put Sanchez into space down the right flank. Sanchez’s laser-accurate cross found the head of fellow forward Radovan Pavicevic for the opening goal of the match after just four minutes of play.
As the half progressed, Apia pushed forward, trying to find an opening in the strongest performed defence all season. However, they lost possession and were caught in transition, when Olympic broke down the left flank this time. Again it was an incisive pass which set Sanchez free. He showed great quality to round the exposed Apia keeper Necevski and beat two defenders with his shot from a tight angle, to double Olympic’s lead in the 35th minute.
Olympic put the seal on the match in the 75th minute and again it was that man Sanchez at the pointy end of an attack. Midfielder Max Burgess, (who along with brother Darcy, had fine games in the middle for Olympic), again played an important part when he threaded a pass through the centre of Apia’s defence. Sanchez again showed his striker’s instincts, as he was onto the pass in a flash and finished well past a helpless Necevski.
Apia pulled a goal back very late in the game through a Themba Muarta-Marlow spot kick, but it was all too late for Apia who suffered a second grand final loss in successive years.
Olympic’s Spanish striker Sanchez was someone who didn’t even know what a grand final was until some weeks back. But his goals in the NSW NPL this season, including six in the last three high pressure games that Olympic have played, are sure to attract the attention of A-League clubs.
Along with the 11th hour appointment of coach Abbas Saad, Olympic’s signing of Sanchez are now widely regarded as masterstrokes. Sanchez not only helped his team to the double, but he picked up the Robbie Slater Man of the Match award for the grand final in the process.
“It has been a brilliant journey so far this season and to have won as much as we have has been a great experience,” he said after the match.
“The clubs I had played for in Spain were usually battling to avoid relegation, so to be a part of such a successful team for a change has been very special.
“The season isn’t over just yet, so we will enjoy this moment now but get back to work soon so we can bring even more success to the club and its fans.”