A showdown against the runaway competition leaders is the last thing most coaches need in a must-win fixture.
But Canberra United mentor Vicki Linton says Saturday's scheduled clash against A-League Women's hot shots Sydney FC could not have come at a better time for her second last-placed side.
A spirited second-half fightback fell short as the winless Canberra was thwarted by a late Adelaide match-sealer against the run of play.
But Linton was confident her side could take advantage of Sydney FC without its star strikers Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine.
The duo has scored four goals each for the Sky Blues but will be absent this weekend after being called up to Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson's pre-Asian Cup training camp squad.
Canberra - anchored to second last on the ladder with two draws and three losses - is scheduled to meet the undefeated Sydney FC at Kogarah this Saturday.
It's a game Linton said her side could not afford to lose.
"It's crucial. Maybe we're a little bit lucky with national team call-ups, so we're hoping to take advantage of that," she said.
"With the way we've been training and the ability we're showing with the ball, I'm actually really looking forward to that fixture. It would have been nice going into it with three points [against Adelaide] under our belt already but I still think it's a good opportunity to play them - the world being all good and we actually get to Sydney."
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United will itself be without gun right back Karly Roestbakken after her call-up to Gustavssson's squad.
Roestbakken, plagued by injury throughout much of the 2021-22 ALW season, was back to her dangerous best on Saturday and was unlucky not to register more than her sole assist for Ash Sykes' goal after some incisive crosses from the byline.
Linton acknowledged her loss would be hard to cover for the rest of January.
"It's been good to have Karly [back on loan from Norway's LSK Kvinner]. Through injury she hasn't played a lot of football this year. You could just see her improving each week. I think this is the best game she's played since she's been here, so I'm just glad that we can help and support her as she goes off with her national team call-up," Linton said.
The Green Machine dominated possession (58 per cent) and had 18 shots to six but was punished by a clinical and on-the-rise Adelaide outfit.
Despite some wayward finishing and a lack of luck in the goalmouth, Linton wanted to see a more resolute effort at the back from her side, which has a goal difference of minus-four.
"We need to be tight at the back and not put us in a position where we're always chasing," she said.
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