Tuggeranong United Coach Martin Lategui, Cooma player Jair Wilk, Tuggeranong captain Matt Menser and Cooma vice captain Goran Josifovski with the Federation Cup. Photo: Jay Cronan
Tuggeranong United will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon this weekend, despite a shot at one of Canberra soccer's oldest pieces of silverware on Wednesday night.
Anchored to the bottom of the National Premier League ladder, Tuggeranong gets an unexpected chance at glory against Cooma in the Federation Cup final at Deakin Stadium on Wednesday.
The Federation Cup, based on an FA Cup-style knockout format, dates back to 1962. It has been 19 years since Tuggeranong claimed it. But United coach Martin Lategui said his team had nothing to lose in the decider, against last year's NPL premiers.
''We had a good show against them last time in Cooma,'' Lategui said. ''It was 1-1 until late into the game and we could've had a different result. They'll definitely go in as favourites and we like the underdog tag, so we'll fight all the way.''
Tuggeranong skipper Matt Menser said the team was so focused on the Federation Cup final that it had probably distracted it from the NPL season.
''We've had a few bad results in the league recently but I think that's because we're focused purely on this game,'' Menser said. ''We've known for a little while now that this is our only chance at winning something.''
It has also been a disappointing season for Cooma with the NPL finals seemingly out of reach.
Cooma has never won the Federation Cup, having failed three times in the final.
Vice-captain Goran Josifovski said the Tigers would not underestimate Tuggeranong, despite being favourites. ''It's always been something that's held a lot of importance in the coaches' minds, the players' minds, and the soccer community in general in Canberra,'' Josifovski said. ''For the Cooma Tigers, it's definitely a competition we want to win and we're very pleased to be there.''
Previous matches between the two suggest Cooma has the upper hand but Josifovski does not want his team looking at its past encounters.
''Tuggeranong are here for a reason and that's because they deserve to be,'' he said.
''You have to respect the opposition, and we'll do that, but we'll fight hard for the win.''
The Federation Cup final kicks off at 7pm on Wednesday at Deakin Stadium.