Slice of Cheese

Lakoseljac Cup Final Preview

The Stage Is Set For A Cup Classic

The biggest game on the Tasmanian Football calendar is set to play out at KGV at 4:30pm on Monday as the Glenorchy Knights and Olympia clash for the Lakoseljac Cup. With both the silverware and FFA Cup spot on the line it’s sure to be a massive occasion with both sides set to leave everything out on the field in their quest for victory. It should be a bumper crowd and if both teams play to their potential, they should be treated to a cracking game of football.

It may be an NPL v Championship match up, but it  just doesn’t feel like there is an obvious favourite heading into this one, it looks an incredibly tight match up on paper. Perhaps it’s because they’re in different leagues and there are no recent matches between the sides that it’s hard to get a feel for what to expect but the anticipation around this one is palpable and the general mood is that this has the makings of a cup classic.

In their cup run Knights have demonstrated they are more than good enough to mix it with the best in the NPL. They had a Lions side parking the bus against them such was how they were viewed by their opposition, they beat the current NPL ladder leaders in Devonport and then they thoroughly smashed Launceston City on route to get here. There is no doubt if they were in the top tier, they would be among the top sides competing for the title. They are a very physical side, perhaps as best evidenced by the video masterpiece that has been doing the rounds on social media this week. Whilst Nowicki will miss through suspension, between the Foley boys and Sherman there is no shortage of grunt in the side. But don’t go thinking that is entirely the Knights M.O, there is still plenty of class and skill in the side to complement that physical edge littered throughout the side. Ethan Engles scores for fun, Sherman is one of the finest exponents over the dead ball in the state and Tyler Harrison remains one of the best ball playing centre halves around.

The Foley boys bring a fine blend of grunt and guile to the midfield -Solstice Photography

The Warriors enter this game having only lost once in their last 13 games and yet remarkably, they enter with question marks hovering over their form! That’s because the one loss is fresh in the mind and it was heavy, falling 6-2 to South Hobart a fortnight earlier. They then defeated the Lions 3-2 last week but after leading 3-0 early on, the second half fade out seemed to lend credence to the view that new coach Kenny Weston has been espousing since taking the job, that his side is not as fit as it needs to be. The first half saw some scintillating football from the Warriors, they could have been much further ahead and looked very sharp as they seemed on the way to removing those doubts about them. But the second half just allowed those concerns to creep back in and with injury doubts over star striker Jakub Sklenar and Warren Wadawu, there is the sense that they might just be vulnerable, despite heading into this game as the presumptive favourites. Any side with stars like Lucas Hill, Jakub Sklenar and Nick Mearns, who crucially looked back to his best last week, are always going to be a tough side to beat though and their larger body of work of the entirety of 2017 should probably count for more than some recent turmoil.

Nick Mearns looked back to his brilliant best last Friday night- Solstice Photography

The Coaches View

Road To The Final

Glenorchy Knights

Round of 16– Defeated Kingborough 1-0

Quarter Finals– Defeated Devonport 4-3 in penalties, (2-2 AET)

Semi Finals– Defeated Launceston City 6-0

Olympia Warriors 

Round of 16– Defeated Ulverstone 7-0

Quarter Final– Defeated Nelson 12-0

Semi Finals- Defeated Hobart Zebras 2-0

The Burning Questions 

 

Do Knights gamble on Engels?

Given his limited game time of late it would be a big decision to give Kurt Engels a start but with Kupsch injured a full back spot might just have opened up for the Engel grinder. He is a genuine match winner and having started to get some minutes in the legs of late, it must be a temptation to deploy him from the outset. He trained strongly on the Saturday in a left back role and could well prove an ace up the sleeve of Franco Previdi.

Who does Weston play at full back?

With Sam Conway still out injured, the Warriors have had a bit of a rotating cast in the full back positions of late and it seems to be an area sides can get at them. Weston has to decide whether he goes with youngsters like Leaman, Sammut or Ortmann or whether he uses Vandermey in one of those roles and plays Hill at centre back, rather than in midfield.

Will Jakub Sklenar be fit?

Perhaps the single biggest factor heading into this one is the fitness of the Warriors star Czech striker. Sklenar has scored 15 times in the league this year and 7 times in the cup, he is the most clinical striker in the state right now and the Warriors do not have another natural replacement. Every cup final seems to have the race against time, Sklenar’s hamstring is it for 2017, they need him to be fit for this game and whilst he is expected to play, it has to be a big concern for the Warriors.

How does Previdi replace Nowicki?

Well this one question that has been answered! As reported on Saturday, the Glenorchy Knights have signed former Socceroo Danny Allsop to replace Nowicki up top. The move makes complete sense, they didn’t have another player in their squad who could play that target man role and Allsopp has the attributes to act as a like for like replacement. Whilst some people are claiming that bringing in a new player 2 days out from the game is going to disrupt things, I’d suggest changing your entire system and the formation you’ve played with all year would be infinitely more disruptive. Either way it has certainly sparked a major talking point and the burning question now becomes, will the 38 year old Allsopp prove a wise investment on the Knights behalf and can he still make an impact?

Squads

Glenorchy Knights

2. Tyler Harrison
3. Samuel James
4. Ben Phillips
5. Jade Clay
6. Declan Foley
7. Allesandro Bellini
9. Danny Allsopp
10. Alexander Nandan
11. Ethan Engels
12. Kurt Engels
13. James Sherman
15. Declan Brown
16. Callum Brown
20. Hugh Foley
22. Dmitri Nester
23. Alex Woodham

Olympia Warriors

1. Mitchell Stalker
2. Lucas Hill
3. Paul Stevens
4. Shae Hickey
6. Nicholas Mearns
8. Jake Vandermey
9. Shane Cartwright
10. Thomas Bellini
11. Joel Sammut
13. Hugh Undy
14. James Mccarthy
15. Mark Ortmann
18. Jakub Sklenar
19. Thomas Little
20. Jacob Leaman
22. Jakob Cole

FFT Media and Communications Coordinator, Everton tragic, long form journalism devotee, Andrea Pirlo enthusiast and admirer of the parked bus.