Canberra Olympic grabbed the bragging rights, but Canberra FC coach Andy Bernal saw enough from Sunday’s 4-2 loss to suggest his side can turn the tables in the finals.
Olympic came from 2-1 down in the second half to snatch the momentum it hopes can carry over into next weekend’s Capital Football National Premier League elimination final between the two clubs.
The victory pushes Olympic ahead of Canberra FC on the table, and opens up the possibility of the third v fourth clash being switched to neutral ground at McKellar Park.
The winner will face the loser of the qualifying final between league champions Cooma Tigers and Belconnen United.
Canberra FC has lost four games in a row and may also be without first-choice goalkeeper Jacob Cole, who sustained a groin injury during training on Saturday.
But Bernal is adamant his side can bounce back and remains a force to be reckoned with.
“The only thing achieved today was a little bit of momentum and Olympic got to sing their song,” Bernal said.
“Even though we lost today, we feel we’re not inferior and on any given day we can beat them.
“Next week is the one that counts.”
Cole’s late withdrawal resulted in 16-year-old goalkeeper Shaun Burke being called up for his first-grade debut.
“I think (Cole)’s adductor strain was pretty serious. He said he wasn’t even able to get changed today and stand between the posts,” Bernal said.
“(Burke) wasn’t the reason we lost – 95 per cent of what he did was what I expected of him today.”
Olympic coach Frank Cachia has a selection headache on his hands after Jeremy Habtemariam and Josh Parisi, both 19, and 16-year-old Adam Neou all impressed.
“We’ll get stronger next week because there were a few boys who were rested today,” Cachia said.
“We’ve only lost twice in the last 10 games, so we’ve got some handy form.”
The Tigers finished their triumphant campaign in emphatic fashion, Stephen Domenici scoring four goals and securing the golden boot with 16 for the season in his side’s 8-0 thumping of Canberra City.
Belconnen United beat the Monaro Panthers 5-2, while the FFA Centre of Excellence defeated Tuggeranong United 4-3.
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