A place in the top four of the Football Queensland Premier League (FQPL) is at stake when Sunshine Coast Wanderers host Souths United at Ballinger Park on Sunday.
A victory would put one of the clubs three points clear of their rivals with only three rounds to be played before the top four square off in the finals.
As things stand pre-match, Sunshine Coast hold the upper hand, but only just, sitting fourth on the ladder on 37 points.
Souths are also on 37 points but are fifth on goal difference. They have a plus-25 factor while the Wanderers are plus-28.
There is also a rough chance that either Sunshine Coast or Souths United could yet grab second spot before the finals – and that position will be rewarded with promotion to National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland in 2019.
So there is obviously so much for the two teams to play for on Sunday.
Souths coach Vedran Becirbegovic, though, is not looking any further than Sunday.
That is the sole focus for his team, he said, and anything beyond that will take care of itself, whether that be top four or promotion.
Of course the Peninsula Power (61 points) have already streeted their rivals for the premiership honours and will be in NPL next season.
But Logan Lightning (43 points), Eastern Suburbs (41), Sunshine Coast (37) and Souths United (37) all have designs on that second place finish.
Asked if he believes Souths United can finish second, Becirbegovic said: “Our main aim is top four.
“Sunshine Coast is going to be a difficult game. We beat them 1-0 first time, but they’re a side that works really hard.”
That’s a fair enough way to look at things but does Becirbegovic think Souths are good enough to claim fourth spot for the finals?
“That remains to be seen but it’s a big step towards it,” the coach said as the finals hopefuls warm up with four rounds remaining (including Sunday’s).
The draw ahead for Sunshine Coast and Souths is:
Sunshine Coast Wanderers: v Souths United (H), Capalaba Bulldogs (A), Logan Lightning (H), Peninsula Power (A).
Souths United: v Sunshine Coast Wanderers (A), Mitchelton FC (H), Eastern Suburbs (A) and close with the bye.
So who has the harder draw, keeping in mind that Souths will not pick up any points with their final-round bye?
“We both have hard draws, but to me you take it a game at a time and try to win them all,” Becirbegovic said.
“I think we have every game that’s winnable. I think it’s possible mathematically but Logan and Easts have the advantage.
“Will the bye hurt us? That depends, it’s very hard to calculate but I prefer to think about the next game and worry about the rest later on.”
Becirbegovic revealed he believes Eastern Suburbs are in the box seat to claim second and earn promotion but remains confident Souths United can match any team in the league.
Words: Terry Wilson