Ellie Brush Photo: Getty Images
Canberra United remains confident of reaching the W-League finals despite facing the prospect of becoming the first reigning champion to miss the play-offs.
After an undefeated campaign last season to claim its maiden title, Canberra has endured some erratic form and must beat leader Brisbane Roar in this weekend's final round to shore up fourth spot, with Sydney FC a point adrift in fifth.
Either Sydney or Canberra will miss the finals for the first time with the pair, along with Brisbane, having reached the play-offs in all four seasons of the W-League.
For Canberra, a tough challenge away to the two-time champion has been made even harder with the team facing a short turnaround from its match against Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday, which had been postponed from last weekend.
Canberra's ability to recover from its midweek exertions will be challenged even further by the extreme heat predicted for the Queensland capital on Saturday. Football Federation Australia has brought forward the match to a 10am start, having initially been scheduled for a mid-afternoon kick-off.
Despite the daunting challenge, Canberra skipper Ellie Brush said her side had the belief to overcome Brisbane following a 5-0 win over Western Sydney. ''Confidence is very high in the camp after a good win and five goals against a strong team,'' Brush said. ''We have come here to Brisbane to do one job and that is to win and claim our spot in the finals. We have played really good football this season, even better I think than last year. We haven't had quite as much luck.''
Brisbane has everything to play for, with victory against Canberra securing the premiership for finishing top of the ladder.
The Roar is hitting form at the right time with a six-match unbeaten run culminating in an impressive 2-0 win against arch-rival Sydney FC last weekend.
''Everyone is hitting form and the injured players from earlier in the season are finding their feet,'' Brisbane coach Belinda Wilson said.
Should the Roar stumble against Canberra, both Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory have the opportunity to leapfrog the side into top spot. AAP