Sydney Olympic and Bankstown City meet for the third time this season with, somewhat surprisingly, the less fancied Lions holding one win and a draw to show for their efforts.
Sydney Olympic has been in overdrive since their last loss – a Round 17 TeleChoice Premier League clash against Bankstown City, ironically enough.
Since, the Blues have played great football on the way to securing third-spot in the League, meanwhile their giant-killing form has been equally impressive in the Cup run.
Wins against Inter Lions and Blacktown City Demons took the Blues through to the quarter-final, before a penalty-shootout was required to split the Blues and Marconi at the end of 120? minutes of frantic action (3-3 draw).
The semi-final provided Milan Blagojevic?s men with a mammoth task of overcoming not only the Sutherland Sharks, but also the advantage their opponents had playing at home. With another penalty-shootout required following the 1-1 result after 120? minutes, Mirko Jurilj?s exquisite chip-penalty got the ball rolling for the Blues. Matthew Jurman then clinched the result, following the heroics of goalkeeper Michael Herbet.
For the Blues, serious injury concerns do surround Peter Zorbas who was carried from the field in Round 22 Premier League action with a knee injury. It’s believed that Zorbas will miss the rest of the season due to a tragic injury that he suffered during the Blues’ last match in the TeleChoice Premier League season against Sydney United. Tiger Turf Cup semi-final hero Michael Herbet too is under an injury cloud, the shot-stopper feeling the effects of a back injury. Up-front, Matthew Mayora will be expected to carry the weight of expectation on his shoulders, meanwhile the fierce, yet creative, midfield duo of Roger Galayini and Milorad Simonovic will pull the strings in the middle of the park.
Bankstown City?s League objectives failed miserably when the Lions were mathematically out of the running for the League finals-series, four Rounds from its conclusion. Peter Tsekenis? side has been arguably one of the more spectacular teams in the competition, offering delicate one-touch football and fine movement off the ball, though it has come down to some poor-finishing in-front of goal, and regular lapses in the defensive third, that has cost the side a place in the League?s Top-Five.
The Tiger Turf Cup Final offers the Lions a chance to make right of what has been a disappointing season. Bankstown City made the semi-final of the Cup without too much stress, defeating the likes of Macarthur Rams, Northern Tigers and Rockdale City Suns.
The semi-final against Bonnyrigg White Eagles was a different story as the side finished the match with 8-men, having survived some clear White Eagles? goalscoring chances.
In the end, the penalty-shootout split the two sides, and it was substitute goalkeeper Andrew Bazi who stepped up and led the Lions to the Final. Two world-class saves ensured the Lions would progress, and keep alive their chances of silverware this season.
Peter Tsekenis will be with play-maker Robert Mileski who was originally going to miss out but was able to win his case after being sent off in the Tiger Turf Cup Semi-Finals.
Club captain and keeper Zlatko Joseski and Phillip Makrys will also be back for the match.
The Lions have struggled in attack, and will require a big showing from James Monie and the input of Mileski.
At the back, Peter Tsekenis and Richard Luksic will lead the pack, meanwhile George Nohra has recovered well from injury to take his part in the Final.
Prior to the big clash kicking off two curtain raiser matches have been organised as the Metro League sees the Under 11’s and 12’s of Granville Association take on the Macarthur Association.
The Under 11’s kick off at 12pm while the Under 12’s commence at 1pm.
-By Joseph Carlucci