Belconnen United cautious of Canberra FC in Capital Football National Premier League grand final

Belconnen United isn't reading anything into Canberra FC's mid-week thrashing at the hands of A-League glamour club Sydney FC ahead of Saturday's grand final.

The Blue Devils have had the week off, while the Capital Football National Premier League decider at Deakin Stadium will be Canberra FC's third game in eight days.

Canberra FC’s Matt Grbesa and Belconnen United’s Taylor Beaton hope to net the Canberra Premier League champions’ trophy ...
Canberra FC’s Matt Grbesa and Belconnen United’s Taylor Beaton hope to net the Canberra Premier League champions’ trophy on Saturday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Last weekend's 3-0 preliminary final win against the Cooma Tigers was followed by a 5-0 hammering by Graham Arnold's Sky Blues on Wednesday night.

Canberra FC will be boosted with the return of coach Andy Bernal, the former Socceroo reinstated to the sidelines after having the final three games of a four-game ban for time-wasting changed to a suspended sentence for next season.

Blue Devils captain Taylor Beaton is expecting Canberra FC to shrug off the disappointment of the Sydney FC match, having been on the wrong end of several defeats in big games in recent years.

"We know how good Canberra FC are. Every game we play against them could go either way. It just depends on who takes their chances," Beaton said.


"They've come into form at the right time of year, so they're definitely a dangerous side across the board.

"We beat Canberra FC the first year I got here in 2008, but since then we've played them four times in grand finals and haven't got the result."

Beaton got through a full training session on Thursday night to prove he has overcome an ankle injury, but is likely to start from the bench.

There is also a question mark over Canberra FC winger Josip Jadric after he sustained a foot injury in the win over the Tigers.

Jadric and defender Aidan Brunskill sat out the loss to Sydney FC, while a majority of first-team regulars didn't play any more than 45 minutes to conserve energy for the grand final.

Simply getting to the decider is an achievement in itself for Canberra FC.

The most successful club in the ACT scraped into the finals on the back of four straight losses and has overcome the mid-year sacking of coach Ray Junna.

But back-to-back wins against Canberra Olympic and the Tigers, who were the league champions, has Bernal confident his side is capable of beating anyone in the league.

"Belconnen have had a few over us this season, but it's a new competition, the finals series," Bernal said.

"Tomorrow's a one-off, winner takes all. There's no prizes for second-best, so we'll be giving 100 per cent and that's all I can ask of them.

"I need them to deliver that, because if we're anything below 100 per cent on all levels, and especially the physical aspect and the mental aspect, then Belconnen will be a tough proposition."

Bernal will be back among his players on game day after the Capital Football tribunal upheld his appeal for being ejected from the technical area in the elimination semi-final.

"It means a lot because I can be with them. I can be in the dressing-room with them and live the game with them," Bernal said.

"More importantly, in my career I've been lucky enough to play in Spain and England in big matches, but this is a big match for Canberra.

"It's a grand final, it means a lot to everybody at our club, it means a lot to the Canberra community, it means a lot to our players and it means a lot to me."

SATURDAY: Capital Football National Premier League grand final: Belconnen United v Canberra FC at Deakin Stadium, 5pm.