FFA Cup: Hume City to unleash fantastic four

'Pub team beats NPL heavyweights' was the headline in last season’s FFA Cup when Hume City endured the ignominy of losing to South Springvale.

Being on the wrong end of one of the great David and Goliath encounters in the inaugural competition was no picnic for Hume City coach Lou Acevski.

But  Acevski says it was a small blip in the history of a club working to be at the vanguard of the Australian National Premier League.

“To get rid of those demons – that’s the motivation after we lost in the FFA Cup last year,” the 37-year-old said. “That really hurt us.

“To see teams like Bentleigh Greens progress into the semi-finals and the publicity and the rest of it – we want to do the same thing.

“We want to go as far as possible and bring a lot of positive energy and positive atmosphere and environment to the club. We are trying to be the strongest and best NPL club in Australia.

“Everybody is hoping that we can progress and get that excitement and that buzz when it comes to drawing the teams in the next round.

“It’s the biggest Cup in Australia – only the second time it has been on the cards. Everybody wants to be a part of it and everybody wants to take it as far as possible and just really enjoy that ride.”

Acevski  has done his homework on Wednesday’s interstate opponents and former NSL side Brisbane Strikers.

“Brisbane is a very good team,” he said. “They’re sitting top currently in their competition in Queensland.

“I’ve watched a couple of their games and they play a good brand of football. They can score goals and also defend well in numbers.

“They have a great history as well back in the old National Soccer League. We’re expecting a very, very tough game.

“I am just happy that we are playing at home. Hopefully that home ground advantage can give us a lift and we can get past them to move to the next round.“

Asevcki main weapons against the Strikers are his fantastic four: former Liverpool youth keeper Chris Oldfield,  ex- Sheffield Wednesday junior, Nick Hegarty, the captain of the club and highly-rated youngster, Jai Ingham, and Petar Franjic, brother of Socceroo Ivan.

The Hume City boss added: “We’ve obviously got Chris Oldfield in goal and Chris has been sensational this year.

He won Goalkeeper of the Year last season in Victoria. I’m hoping Chris will keep doing his fine work he’s done all season.

“Hegarty on his day is the best player in the competition in Victoria. He controls the whole team and whenever he is playing well and doing the right things and he plays towards that.

“Young Ingham – he is an exciting, explosive young footballer who plays down the wings. He can  definitely do a lot of damage on song when he’s up for it.

“And in the back line we have Petar Franjic who has been rock solid for us this year. He’s probably been our most consistent footballer the whole year in all competitions.

“That’s four of our boys that hopefully can do a really good job. But in saying that, it’s going to take a collective team game for us to progress against the Strikers.

Oldfield who trained with Spanish Merseyside legend Pepe Reina at Anfield is buzzing to play the NPL QLD leaders.

“I’m looking forward to it (but) it’s going to be a tough game,” the shot-stopper said. “The Brisbane strikers are one of the best teams in their league.

“It’s going to be a tough contest but I believe that we will stand up and stay strong on our home ground. I’m definitely excited for it, it’s going to be a very good game.”

Acevski sees the FFA Cup as an opportunity that may not come around again. For some players it’s their shot to be noticed – a shop window to the top tier Australian football – for others it’s a chance for glory and silverware.

“Every player has different aims and ambitions, different drivers when it comes to football,” he said.

“Some of the younger boys have got aims and a higher standard and go to the A League and overseas. Some of our older boys are comfortable with playing at this level at the moment and just want to win trophies.

“The way I put it to them is that it’s an opportunity to really enjoy a wave that might only come once a lifetime or once in a football career.

“Some players might be lucky and win championships and win trophies throughout their footballing career but some go through 10, 15, 20 years of playing the game and never win anything.

“The message is that while it’s going to be difficult, and every game is difficult, we make sure we go out and give it our best on the day and really enjoy the occasion.”

PHOTO: Hume City

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.