Ex-NSL powerhouses set for FFA Cup blockbuster

South Melbourne are hoping of a crowd of close to 3000 on Friday night when they take on former NSL rival Melbourne Knights in the sixth round of qualifying in the FFA Cup.

The Knights knocked South Melbourne out of qualifying for the Cup last year and both clubs have set their sights on making this year’s round of 32.

The Knights were eliminated from the round of 32 in 2014 after going down 3-1 away at the hands of Olympic FC.

Club vice president Pave Jusup said the clash is probably the Knights’ biggest game this year.

“It’s probably our grand final to be honest,” he told FourFourTwo.

“It’s come a bit early. Last year it was pretty much the same game but it’s come a round later. There’s a buzz around the place. The players know what it means to us and to themselves as well.

“Hopefully it’s a good game and hopefully we win. It’s a derby game, form goes out the window and you can basically flip a coin who’s going to win.

"It’s one of those games where something out of the ordinary separates the two teams, a great goal, some individual brilliance or bad refereeing or concentration or whatever it is.”

The game is a standalone event at Lakeside Stadium on June 5 and Jusup is hoping the Knights can bring around 500 away fans in support to South Melbourne’s home ground.

“People always come out for this game,” he said.

“It should be a good game, it should be a passionate atmosphere.”

Jusup said making the final 32 of the FFA Cup would be “huge” for his club.

“We have been planning for it and we’ve retained 80 per cent of the squad we had last year,” he said.

“Olympic FC surprised us last year. The players want to go one step further this year and prove some people wrong and hopefully get an A-League team and get a good crowd at home and give some of our people a bit of that renaissance around the club.”

The Knights currently sit in fourth spot in the Victorian NPL after 15 rounds with 28 points. South Melbourne are in second position on 36 points, the same as first-placed Heidelberg United.

The two teams meet earlier this season with Hellas prevailing 2-1.

South Melbourne spokesperson George Kouroumalis said his club is keen to make an big impact on the FFA Cup.

“One hundred per cent, it’s a goal for the club,” he said.

“Obviously we still have our league obligations. We have built from the bottom up.

"We need something like this to happen to the club so we can continue to grow.

"Our fans deserve to see us compete against the biggest clubs in the country.”