Crunch game for Fury
THE Northern Fury are on the verge of launching a Cinderella run to the Queensland NPL finals, but standing in their way is the competition’s biggest goalscoring threat.
The Fury take on a Western Pride team spearheaded by season- leading goal scorer and former Newcastle Jets striker Harrison Sawyer, who has scored an incredible 15 goals from seven matches since signing with the Ipswich club in May. Sawyer has bagged four THE Socceroos may not know their 2018 World Cup fate until the morning after their mustwin clash against Thailand.
Owing to time differences and expected scorching temperatures in Western Asia, FIFA has determined the final round of Asian Group B qualifiers due to be played on Tuesday, September 5 will not kick off simultaneously.
That could mean a nervous wait – or a sleepless night – for fans hoping for certainty from Australia’s match against Thailand, which will be played at 8pm local time at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
Even if the Socceroos win, it may not be until the conclusion of Saudi Arabia’s meeting with Japan in Jeddah, which begins at 3.30am AEST the following morning, that the road to Russia becomes clear.
Unless Ange Postecoglou’s men can upset Japan in their penultimate qualifier in Saitama on August 31, the Socceroos may need a favourable result from the Saudi- Japan clash to confirm a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance. Otherwise, a playoff against the third- placed team in Group A – currently Uzbekistan – and then another twolegged clash with the fourthplaced CONCACAF qualifier – currently Panama – will be on the cards.
Japan currently Group A. sit atop hat- tricks and last week scored a double in the Pride’s 3- 0 win over Far North Queensland, just the latest in a string of onesided victories.
The Pride are on a fourgame winning streak after knocking off Redlands United 5- 0, Brisbane City 4- 2, Moreton Bay 4- 0 and FNQ in Cairns.
Experienced heads Hamish Cassidy and Darren Walker are expected to play for the Fury in tonight’s catch- up game at Brolga Park, with Cassidy coming off the bench in last weekend’s inspired 2- all away draw with league leaders Gold Coast, and Walker overcoming a neck strain.
Beat the seventh- placed Pride, who are one spot ahead of the Fury, and finals football could be less than three wins away.
“The Pride have been playing really strongly, but we just have to keep focusing on ourselves because we do a lot better when we do that,” Fury captain Corey Waples said.
“We still have that belief anything can happen, but we have to make our run as strong as possible.
“We’re at home again and it’s good to play at home anytime, but it’s definitely something we’re looking forward to after what we went through on the Gold Coast.”
Waples said the team had made a point of playing for coach Paul Roncato, who last week suffered a stroke in the lead- up to the Fury’s Gold Coast game.
“We always want to put in the extra effort for him because he does so much for the team,” he said.
“It was horrible to hear the news and it’s not good seeing him in the trenches like that, so we dug deep for him.
“We just have to keep pushing because we have these two games in hand.”
The Fury have two extra games over the rest of the league after their last encounter against the Pride was postponed because of bad weather, and an earlier game against the Brisbane Roar was cancelled because the Roar could field a competitive team.
Roncato knows his team is up against arguably the league’s most in- form team, but is backing his troops to build on last weekend’s draw.
“They’ve kicked everyone off the park in the last four weeks, and their striker is just ripping teams to shreds,” he said.
“But we have to be up to the challenge, and we’ve shown from our last few games that we have been willing to do that.
“If we beat the Pride our finals hopes are well and truly alive.”
Kick- off 7pm. not at Brolga Park is
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