Thursday, July 4, 2013

Olympic on show against Wanderers

Nikolai Topor-Stanley will come to Canberra with the Wanderers.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley will come to Canberra with the Wanderers. Photo: Getty Images

Canberra soccer fans will get a first-hand look at the reigning A-League premiers when the Western Sydney Wanderers take on Canberra Olympic at the AIS on August 15.

The Wanderers were the feelgood story of the year in Australian sport as they collected the Premiers' Plate in their debut season.

Their charge was halted only by the Central Coast Mariners in the grand final.

Bringing the Wanderers to the ACT for a pre-season game is a major coup given that Canberra doesn't have an A-League team.

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Olympic coach Leo Exarhos said the match would be the perfect opportunity for young players to put themselves in the shop window and show they deserve a chance in the professional arena.

''Without having an A-league team in Canberra, clubs and Capital Football are striving to shine a bit of a light on football in Canberra,'' Exarhos said.

''For our population, we've got a really good track record of producing excellent playing talent in the ACT. We're not looking at just a Canberra Olympic team, we're looking at including players from other clubs to showcase other talent we've got here.

''If we can be competitive in the game, it opens up a whole bunch of opportunities for players in Canberra to potentially go on to the A-League.

''We don't have a pathway in Canberra, so we really rely on games like these to showcase to the rest of the nation that we shouldn't be overlooked.''

Olympic has formed a relationship with the Wanderers, with two of its former players, Daniel Barac and Jacob Williams, involved in Western Sydney's National Youth League team.

Exarhos is hopeful of having the pair back for a one-off appearance against the Wanderers.

It will also be a chance for Wanderers defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley to play in front of his home fans.

The Tuggeranong United junior was a standout for the Wanderers and was recognised with selection in the A-League All Stars team to take on Manchester United later this month.

He was on Thursday joined by teammates Michael Beauchamp, Mark Bridge, Ante Covic and Youssouf Hersi for the match with the Red Devils at ANZ Stadium on July 20.

It will be the first time the Wanderers have played a game in Canberra.

The Mariners and the Newcastle Jets have held pre-season fixtures in the ACT in previous years.

The Jets will bring their National Youth League (under-20s) squad to Canberra for a match with Youth United on Monday night at the AIS.

Youth United will comprise the best under-20 players from the ACT competition.


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