With the state based NPL Finals series done and dusted, attention now turns to the National Finals series involving the minor premiership winners from each state, which kicks off this weekend with four elimination finals matches.
Victorian Premiers Heidelberg United and ACT Premiers Canberra Olympic are the two Greek based clubs which will be involved in the quest to be crowned national NPL champion. The Bergers have won the crown once before in 2017.
They commence their tilt at a second National NPL title with an elimination finals match against WA Premiers, Perth SC, this Sunday at JL Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne, whilst Canberra Olympic travels to Wollongong to take on the Wollongong Wolves.
The Bergers return to JL Murphy Reserve, hoping to erase the disappointment of its most recent visit to the same venue, just a fortnight ago when it lost to Bentleigh Greens in the Victorian NPL semi-finals. Bergers coach George Katsakis is hopeful he will be able to call on the services of his regular defence rather than being forced to play midfielder Harry Noon as a makeshift right back to cover for the injured Josh Wilkins as was the case in recent matches.
Against Perth SC (or the Azzuri, as they’re known in Perth), Heidelberg faces a team coached by respected coach Ramon Falzon, who like Katsakis, has led the team to three premierships.
The three Perth premierships in the last four years, include two consecutive Premiership and Championship doubles. The Azzuri won the title in a canter in 2019, finishing 11 points clear of Inglewood United which it also defeated 2-1 in the WA Grand Final just last weekend. So they’ll be coming over to Melbourne with momentum and full of confidence.
They finished the season with the best defence in the league, led by keeper-skipper Francis Soale. They have plenty of goal scoring ability as well with 20 year old Golden Boot winner and former Perth Glory striker Michael Domfeh leading the line and alongside him, Gustavo Catarciano.
The Azzuri midfield includes players who can create goal scoring opportunities for others as well as score themselves. They include Paul Zimarino, Hayley Orr, Kristian Santich, Matthew Milenkovic and Niccolo Sabatini.Falzon, no doubt has done his due diligence and knows that against the Bergers, the Azzuri faces a tough opponent which likes to play a direct style but also has individual match winners.
The winner of that game will progress to the semi-final stage the following weekend, where the winner of the other elimination final between Wollongong Wolves and Canberra Olympic awaits them.
READ MORE: Canberra Olympic creates history
The other semi- final will be between the winners of this weekend’s other two elimination finals:
Maitland (NSW) v Devonport Strikers (Tas)
Lions FC ( Qld) v Campbelltown City (SA)
The winner of the series will be crowned National NPL Champion and earns automatic qualification for next season’s FFA Cup Rd of 32.
Sunday’s match between Heidelberg United and Perth SC kicks off at 4.30 pm at JL Murphy Reserve, Port Melbourne.