Following an enthralling 2008 season, complete with all the thrills and spills on the last day of the season proper, the last round in both the Southern and Northern Conference Leagues produced last minute changes to their top two finals positions.
MAJOR SEMI ? 1st Grade – Camden Tigers vs Balmain SC
The major semi final, scheduled for 3pm Sunday afternoon, August 10, at Lambert Park, sees Northern Conference premiers, Balmain SC, take on Southern Conference premiers, Camden Tigers, in a clash of the titans.
For the winner, there is a place in the grand final that awaits, whilst the loser will get a second bite of the cherry, by playing the winner of the minor semi final between Roosters FC and Hakoah.
Balmain won the Conference League North before the last game of the season, having only been beaten once all year, scoring 55 goals in their 16 matches for only 10 against.
Camden Tigers did it a little tougher in the Conference League South, winning 11 and drawing 2 of their 16 matches, scoring a similar 56 goals, and conceding just 14.
Some of Balmain?s players will relish playing at Lambert Park, having strutted their stuff at this venue many times during their careers at Apia Leichhardt.
Defenders Pettenon and Trieste, and strikers Buonavoglia and Merlino, have all graced the turf at Leichhardt, and are looking forward to the match.
Experienced central defender, Jeremy Pettenon, says it?s all systems go for Sunday.
?We will be approaching this game in a similar style to how we?ve played all year, probably with a little more intensity,? said Pettenon.
He concluded to highlight that ??The club?s goal all year was to be champions, and we have a full squad of players available just when we need them to help us achieve our goal.?
Try and get down to Lambert Park on Sunday for what promises to be an intense match between the Conference Leagues? heavyweights.
In the early match, the Reserve Grade major semi final, kicking off at 1pm, Gladesville Ryde Magic, first in the North Conference competition with just one loss all season, will take on Southern Conference winners Lilli Pilli, both hoping for victory and a spot in the season?s decider in two weeks time.
MINOR SEMI ? 1st Grade – Roosters FC vs Hakoah
The minor semi-final in first grade is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, August 9, kicking off at Seymour Shaw Park at 3pm, and pits together Roosters FC (Northern Conference) and Hakoah (Southern Conference) in an elimination clash.
There are bound to be plenty of goals as these two teams ended up being the top goalscorers in their respective Conference competitions, scoring a mammoth 132 goals between them in 32 matches, at an average of 4 goals per game!
The level surface of the synthetic Seymour Shaw will suit the technical ability of the Roosters FC midfielders, especially their playmaker and number 10, Topal.
But Hakoah know how to knock the ball around, and played both of their catchup games at this venue last week, winning 10-0 and 7-1 over two days.
Hakoah striker, Doron Pozniak, says his team was very focused last week on getting to the semis ?. ?We needed 3 wins from 3 games in that last week, and nothing less. The first game against Greenisland (10-0) really gave us the confidence to go on with it, and we never worried about the other games, just making sure we got the 3 wins,? stated Pozniak.
When quizzed about whether the hectic schedule would come back to haunt them this week, Pozniak was non-plussed ? ?The team is built around a fairly young group, so the boys can cope with this. There are a few niggling injuries here and there, but I think come the final series, all those aches and pains will somehow disappear and pure adrenalin and excitement will come through,? said a confident Pozniak.
This game promises to be a real cracker, with both teams likely to go on the front foot and attack from the outset, just like they have been all season.
In the Reserve Grade clash, starting at 1pm, Hawkesbury City, who won on the last day of the season last week to finish runners-up, will play Colo Colo Wanderers in a do-or-die finale, one of these teams saying goodbye to 2008.
-By Frank Speranza