Sport

Canberra FC recruits rivals to face A-League's Sky Blues

Canberra FC will bring in reinforcements from one of its arch rivals to strengthen its squad for Wednesday night's friendly with A-League glamour club Sydney FC at Deakin Stadium.

With one eye on Saturday's Capital Football National Premier League grand final with Belconnen United, seven players from Canberra Olympic will wear Canberra FC shirts in one-off appearances against Graham Arnold's Sky Blues.

Sydney FC has included former Socceroos striker Alex Brosque, attacking midfielder Nick Carle and exciting Canberra prospect George Timotheou in a 17-player squad, but will be without Austrian captain Marc Janko and New Zealand ace Shane Smeltz, who are both on international duty.

Belconnen United and Tuggeranong United were also approached by Canberra FC for the use of their players, but they knocked back the request.

Tuggeranong United's focus is on next Tuesday night's huge round-of-16 FFA Cup clash with A-League powerhouse Melbourne Victory at Viking Park.

Socceroos duo Carl Valeri and Mark Milligan will both back up for the Victory after being involved in Australia's 3-2 win against Saudi Arabia in London on Tuesday morning.

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Canberra FC coach Andy Bernal admitted it was a difficult balancing act, as his side had to play three games in the space of eight days, but the benefits of having the city's best players exposed to a top-level side outweighed the negatives.

"We'll see how many Canberra FC boys play and how many I take off at a certain stage, because we've got a grand final in three days' time," Bernal said.

"Irrespective of the shirt that we play in on Wednesday night, for me, the next 48 hours are going to be an All-Stars squad and everybody will be treated the same.

"Those players won't let us, or themselves, down..

"It's a wonderful opportunity for 20 or 22 Canberra kids to get a run against a very strong Sydney side that Arnie's bringing."

A majority of Canberra FC players are expected to start the game before the Olympic contingent of Angelo Konstantinou, Robbie Deeley, Josh Gaspari, Callum Smith, Nick Bobolas, Daniel Barac and Nathan Tidmarsh get their chance in the second half.

It is Canberra FC's second game against an A-League team this year after its 1-0 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers in July.

Canberra FC midfielder James Field, 21, said there were plenty of positives to take out of that game.

"We learnt we can actually match it against the A-League," Field said.

"We did pretty well defensively, stayed pretty structured, and there was only one goal scored in the game.

"We come into this game with a bit more confidence."

It is also a chance for Canberra to continue to push its claim for inclusion in the national competition.

Canberra FC vice-captain Josip Jadric wants to see the region get behind the match and prove there's an appetite for elite football in the ACT.

"Hopefully it will draw a big crowd, a bit of atmosphere, and hopefully we can bring some ties in with clubs like that," Jadric said.

"We want to show the FFA we can pull those figures and we can get an A-League club started here for the future, for the young guys."

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Canberra FC v Sydney FC on Wednesday at Deakin Stadium, 7pm. Tickets available at the gate. Adults: $15. Concession: $10. Children under 12: Free

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