Star recruit gives Canberra FC edge
Alex Oloriegbe gets injured during the second half. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Star striker Alex Oloriegbe scored a hat-trick on his debut for Canberra FC, before declaring his new club could defy the critics and challenge for the championship.
A rebuilt Canberra FC made its intentions of returning to the top of the Capital Football National Premier League clear with an 8-1 thumping of Tuggeranong United on Sunday.
Canberra FC needed to show it had put a forgettable campaign, by its lofty standards, well and truly to bed.
Canberra FC keeper Adam Perakovic and Tuggeranong's Matt Menser go for the ball. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
The most decorated club in ACT men's soccer limped into the finals before going down to eventual grand final winners Cooma Tigers in the preliminary final.
The off-season loss of club captain Adam Spaleta and leading goal scorer Michael Spaleta had dampened expectations for Canberra FC. But Oloriegbe's arrival from the Tigers, along with the emergence of several talented youngsters, has given Miro Trninic's men an attacking edge.
Oloriegbe, who finished in a four-way tie for the competition's golden boot last season with 21 goals for the season, predicted Canberra FC would prove a handful for fellow heavyweights Cooma, Belconnen United and Canberra Olympic.
Tuggeranong's Tim Stewart, left, and Canberra FC's James Field vie for the ball. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
''I think the guys are good enough to beat any team in the league,'' Oloriegbe said.
''Most people don't give us a chance, but I know we do [have a chance] because we have a very, very good attacking team this year.
''If we can keep our consistency, grand final here we come.''
Oloriegbe declined to go into details about the reasons why he left the Tigers, but he has proved to be an instant hit at his new club.
He placed the praise squarely at the feet of the Canberra FC midfield.
''The midfielders are terrific and deliver a lot of good passes,'' he said. ''As a striker you can't ask for more than that.
''Everybody works for each other.''
The competition's opening round featured three one-sided contests as the gulf between the contenders and the pretenders was plain to see.
Mark Shields made an immediate impact for Canberra Olympic, the former Tuggeranong United marksman finding the net four times in its 8-1 hammering of the Monaro Panthers at Riverside Stadium.
And while reigning league champion Belconnen United was less convincing in disposing of a gallant Canberra City 4-2 at the Hawker Football Centre, the Blue Devils are still the benchmark.
They will provide Canberra FC with a much sterner test at Deakin Stadium next Sunday.
''The Belconnen game is going to be difficult, but I know we can win,'' Oloriegbe said. ''It'll be a good contest.''
The first-round game between Cooma and Woden Valley has been postponed until April 2.