Hunted To Become The Hunters

Apr 19, 2018 by

Brisbane Strikers football manager, David Large, says his players are eagerly anticipating their chance to take on league leaders Olympic FC at Goodwin Park on Sunday.

Strikers, currently in fourth position on the NPL Queensland ladder, are seven points behind Olympic with a game in hand. In the context of a season approaching its half way mark and Strikers’ determination to mount a strong defence of their premiership, Olympic is a team they clearly need to beat.

As reigning premiers for two seasons, Strikers are accustomed to being the tall poppies that other teams love to cut down. But Large says the hunted are now relishing the prospect of becoming the hunters on Sunday.

“This is a game that everybody looks forward to,” Large said, “and I don’t just meant the opposition, I mean the importance of the game.

“We’ve all said this, whether it be myself or the players – every week, every team wants to beat us and we play in a grand final atmosphere whether we like it or not.

“This week, I think this is one of those games that we look to playing as our grand final. And it’s a nice feeling. The vibe is good around training, and you can see that the players have put a little bit more importance on this than maybe they might have done had it been anybody different.

“Obviously, we are very wary of Olympic and we understand that we are going to have to come with the right attitude and the right game plan. It’s a game that, for me, is very exciting and one that we’re all looking forward to.”

Strikers will go into the contest with six successive league wins and an FFA Cup qualifier win behind them. They are in a rich vein of form.

But there can be no denying that Olympic are flying too. They have not been beaten this season and have won their last three games in succession.

Ominously, among their scalps have been Western Pride (second on the league table) and Lions FC (third) – both of whom beat Strikers in Rounds One and Two.

Put simply, the contrasting results of Olympic and Strikers against Pride and Lions are the reasons Olympic are currently top of the league and Strikers are fourth. Strikers must look to raise their game a notch or two on Sunday if they are to put themselves in a position to defend their league title.

Large acknowledged this when asked if his players could be considered underdogs despite their excellent recent form.

“I think that’s a difficult one,” Large said. “I think that if you asked them (Olympic) they’d say that they’re very wary of us, given the form we’re in. And they should be wary of us, because we’re a good football team.

“But so are they. They’ve assembled a really good squad this year, they’re having a fantastic year, and I’d have to say that based on their position on the table and their undefeated tag, surely anyone would have to consider them the favourites in this one. Particularly playing at home.”

While Olympic did recruit well for this season, bringing into their squad a battery of young, quick and willing attackers such as Adam Edgar (seven goals), former Brisbane Striker Shelford Dais (5 goals), Jez Lofthouse and Costa Psaros, Large suggested their winning formula had more to do with their experienced players and the ideas instilled by new coach Ben Cahn.

“He has come in with some good coaching pedigree behind him, particularly in that National Youth League area, and I think he has put some structure in that the more senior players have bought into and I think it’s given them a purpose,” said Large.

Looking at his own team, Large said that apart from Dennis Yongule he now has a full complement of players to select from this weekend. Centre forward Rhys Meredith and midfielder Jake McLean (pictured) have recovered from hamstring strains and are pushing hard for positions in the starting eleven, which means Large has some pleasant selection headaches.

“In my own mind I know a starting nine,” said Large. “I’m not sure of the other two yet. A couple of things will depend on fitness and how we go tactically in our training session on Thursday”.

NPL Queensland Round 11: Olympic FC v Brisbane Strikers, Goodwin Park, Sunday 22 April. Kick-off at 5.00 pm (preceded by a full list of fixtures involving NPL Juniors from Under-13s up to Under-18s with kick-off times commencing at 11.00 am and concluding at 3.00 pm)

Photo: Michele Pitman

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