NPL Queensland’s top two teams Lions FC and Olympic FC will face off in this weekend’s Grand Final at Lions Stadium on Sunday night.
Lions FC (1) v Olympic FC (2)
Lions Stadium, Richlands
Sunday, 9 September, 5:00pm
Premiers Lions FC have won their last 15 games in the NPL, while runners-up Olympic FC have won seven straight leading into this weekend’s clash.
Having played in an FFA Cup match midway through last week followed by 120 minutes of play and a penalty shootout against Moreton Bay United in Sunday’s semi-final, the test for Lions FC will be whether they can overcome the after-effect to claim Championship glory.
Olympic, meanwhile, will look to continue the momentum that has seen them win their last seven, but with Lions playing at home and also on a winning streak, this Sunday’s Grand Final is either team’s for the taking.
The last time the sides met wasn’t in the NPL Queensland, but in the FFA Cup Round of 32 match played at Lions Stadium.
Despite a second half fight-back from Olympic, Lions came out victorious in the meeting, beating their fellow Brisbane rivals 3-2 to proceed to the Round of 16.
In their other meetings this NPL Queensland season, both teams have come out on top on one occasion each
Olympic defeated Lions 1-0 in Round 3, thanks to a Jez Lofthouse goal, before Lions won 1-0 in their Round 16 clash with Marek Madle scoring the only goal of the game in his first appearance in the NPL Queensland.
SEMI FINAL PERFORMANCE
Olympic qualified for the Grand Final thanks to a 2-1 victory over last season’s Champions Western Pride over the weekend.
An Alexander Smith brace secured the come-from-behind win for Olympic, who extended their unbeaten run to 11 games with the victory.
Lions had to work a little harder for their semi-final win though, with scores locked at 0-0 after 90 minutes against Moreton Bay United, despite the hosts being down to ten men for the final 30 minutes of the game.
Lions finally found the net in the 95th minute through the head of Shaun Carlos, but their lead was short-lived with the Jets equalising four minutes later to send the game to a penalty shootout.
The Premiers went on to win 3-1 on penalties, thanks to goals from Carlos, Madle and goalkeeper Luke Borean.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Olympic FC: Alexander Smith
Olympic’s Smith only joined the club mid-season but has been a big part of their success this season, especially leading into the Finals Series.
Smith has scored four goals in his last three games for Olympic, including a second half brace in their semi-final match against Pride to take his team through to the Grand Final.
If Smith can continue this momentum come this weekend’s game, he will be instrumental in helping his team claim Grand Final glory.
Smith said he believed last weekend’s close win against Western Pride will only help his team’s chances in Sunday’s game.
“We’ve faced quite a bit of adversity all year, we’ve put ourselves in a lot of tough situations and Sunday was no different,” Smith said.
“So to be able to come out of that as a team and take that sort of come-from-behind win late into the Grand Final is almost better than winning easy. We’ll be looking to carry on that momentum on Sunday.”
Lions FC: Luke Borean
Lions have been the best defensive side in the NPL Queensland all year, having only conceded 11 goals in the regular season.
This incredible feat is thanks partly to ‘keeper Borean, who has recorded an impressive 17 clean sheets this year.
Beanie-clad Borean was the hero of Lions’ penalty shootout decider, saving one shot and netting the winning penalty to send this year’s Premiers into the Grand Final.
If the season so far is anything to go by, Borean’s goalkeeping prowess may be key to Lions’ success come Sunday.
If you can’t make it down to Lions Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the NPL Grand Final will be livestreamed on www.footballqueensland.com.au/live from 4.45pm.
Words: Elizabeth Lepre
Images: Ian Judd, Alison Langevad