Douglas favoured to win Cairns soccer title
DOUGLAS United Dragons are favourites to win the FNQ Football grand final, according to the former opponents of this weekend's grand finalists.
Of the six clubs already eliminated, just two – Southside and Innisfail – predict a Leichhardt victory at Endeavour Park on Saturday night.
That leaves four clubs picking the team that finished level on premiership points with Marlin Coast and only missed out on the title because of goal difference.
But the decision was closer than the numbers indicate.
Marlin Coast coach Paul Fitzgerald, whose premiership-winning team have played both sides in the past two weeks and come up short on both occasions, struggled to come up with a clear favourite.
"Out of the two teams I think Leichhardt would have the advantage," he said before changing his mind because of the pitch at Endeavour Park.
"Actually, I don't think that pitch will help them.
"I think the pitch will be the difference.
"If it was a decent pitch I would go for Leichhardt, but I think the pitch will favour the long ball game of Douglas."
If FNQ Bulls assistant coach Martin Docherty’s assessment is correct, the pitch should not be a concern.
The state league side trained at the facility on Tuesday night and Docherty reported no concerns with the pitch.
Experience is the key advantage in Douglas United's favour, according to those who have faced the team.
"(Douglas) have been able to answer everything the opposition has thrown at them in the last 10 weeks," Edge Hill veteran Max Latimer said.
The goal scorer cited the Dragon's 2-0 semi-final win over Marlin Coast as one of the top performances of the
That match tipped the scales for Stratford player-coach Andre Lohmann.
"That was the best defensive performance I have seen by a team in the league this year," Lohmann said.
"They were so quick getting to the ball and they changed their style of play against Marlin Coast.
"They were a lot more direct."
But Lohmann was sure close friend Pasco Rogato, the Lions head coach, would have a few tricks up his sleeve.
"Tactically against Marlin Coast in the second half last week they were very, very good," he said.
"Even though they were playing against 10 men.
"That can be very difficult and they handled it very well."
Innisfail coach John Hardaker and Southside captain Josh Hughes both picked Leichhardt to win the match.
They cited the Lions blistering attack as the team’s key to victory.
"Preparation is going to be the key," said Hardaker before picking Leichhardt.
"It really will come down to whichever team comes into the match with the best preparation and executes.
"Because on their day, either side can win."
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Prediction:Marlin Coast Rangers coach Paul Fitzgerald is tipping Douglas United Dragons to win.