They may have lost the last three ACT National Premier League grand finals, but the most successful club in Canberra football have not lost the hunger to fight again for the 2016 crown.

Canberra FC Coach Zoran Glavinic at Deakin Stadium // Photo by Jake Gunning

Canberra FC aren’t going to let last year’s heartbreaking grand final loss get them down; instead the team has vowed to use it as motivation heading into the new campaign.

The reigning league champions have lost six players from last season’s squad, but head coach Zoran Glavinic insists that his team will still be competitive in this year’s competition. Stating that the ambitions for the season are still to win everything they can, at the very least finish top four.

“The aim is to become champions again and qualify for the Playstation 4 series at the end of the season,” Glavinic said.

Amid the losses the club is happy to welcome back Ryan Keir who has spent the last two seasons in Sydney with Sydney Olympic and Glavinic says that Keir will be a great acquisition for his side.

“We’re really pleased that he has returned to Canberra FC.”

The side has had a fairly good preseason according to Glavinic, having played against two tough Sydney sides and another from Wollongong as well as claiming the inaugural Capital Football Charity Shield with a convincing 4-1 win against Gungahlin in March. The first of many trophies Glavinic hopes the team get in 2016.

There are some concerns in regard to injuries though, with a few players pulling up sore after the trial games, but the coach hopes by round one or two they should be close to having a full list.

Glavinic says he is happy with the depth of the squad and that there’s always competition for every position. “There’s always someone looking over your shoulder,” he says, “someone pushing you and that’s one of the things about Canberra FC.”

One player Glavinic will hope is firing on all cylinders this season is gun English striker, Thomas James. It’s no secret that Canberra FC likes to score goals and last year they were led by James, who netted an impressive 19 goals in 16 league appearances.

Last season’s leading goal scorer, Thomas James // Photo by Jake Gunning

James moved out to Australia on his own three years ago when he was 19 to try out the Australian lifestyle and says he loves it here compared to England which he describes as being “cold and wet”. James is heading into his second season at Deakin and believes his side is ready to go all the way this year.

“We’ll do well this year, we’ll definitely be up there,” James said. “Pre-seasons been good, the fitness is definitely there.”

James spent his first season in the nation’s capital playing with Monaro, but believes his new club is the best in the league. The Englishmen admitted that all he and his team mates want out of this season is silverware.

“I just want to win, win everything we can. FFA cup, league and grand final.” The latter being the most desired by the dressing room. “The grand final, that’s what everyone wants, that’s what I want as well.”

The FFA Cup is another competition both James and Glavinic want to do better in this season after going out quite early to Cooma FC last year.

Glavinic says the competitive nature of his players will play a big part in their attempt to go deep into the competition. “Most of our players are high achievers and we want to obviously play at a high level and get to play against the A-league or Sydney sides.”

The new season kicks off April 3 when Canberra FC play Monaro at Deakin Stadium and Glavinic insists the team is fully focused on facing the Panthers and claiming all three points.

The two sides met in the same round last year with Canberra FC claiming a compelling 5-1 win and Glavinic says his team are hoping to get a similar result this time as well.

“We’ll be hoping to do the same thing as last year, but trying to keep a clean sheet.”

The team will be missing some firepower up front though with star striker James suspended for the first game after picking up a red card against Blacktown City in the NPL finals series last year.

Glavinic and his team, however, look set for a big 2016. The club has set themselves “pretty high goals” and the motivation from last year’s grand final defeat along with the competitive nature of the club should hold them in good stead for another successful campaign.

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Jake Gunning

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