FFA Cup preview: Round of 16 action

The FFA Cup is back! The round of 16 is split over two weeks and the first four games On Tuesday are intriguing to say the least.

Conquerors of Western Sydney Wanderers, Adelaide City, will look to defeat Brisbane Strikers while over in Queensland, Olympic FC entertains A-League opposition in Central Coast Mariners. The Greek community are set for a treat in the harbour city as Sydney Olympic take on Bentleigh Greens.  Finally, The Tuggies face off against an unbeaten Melbourne Victory in Canberra. 

Adelaide City (SA) v Brisbane Strikers (Qld)  #ACvSTR
Venue: Marden Sports Complex, Marden, SA
Kick-off: 7pm (local) 7:30pm (AEST)

The reward for taking down Western Sydney Wanderers in the last round is a home tie against NPL opposition and Adelaide City will be determined to build on their victory. The key to beating WSW was defence and midfielder Shane Tobias thinks that this is a key factor again.

“Definitely looking at keeping it tight and compact in defence as we did last round, minimising their attacking threats,” Tobias said. He thinks it will be a cagey affair but that City’s freshness could tip the balance, adding: “The advantage of us not having a competitive game in two weeks has given a couple of players the opportunity to get over niggling injuries so it's safe to say we should all be fit and rearing to go.”

Meanwhile, “attack-minded football” was the message from assistant coach Ken Armstrong as Brisbane Strikers prepare for the tie. Armstrong was quick to recognise and praise the enormity of Adelaide City’s result in the last round but resolute that his side will be on the front foot where possible.  Although several players are injured, the Strikers have been able to put out a similar looking team of late and will expect to benefit from this on Tuesday. An early goal for either team could light the fuse for an intriguing contest. Armstrong is expecting the worst and hoping for the best. “We expect a tough night but we will be playing without fear,” he said.

Olympic FC (Qld) v Central Coast Mariners  (NSW) #OLYvCCM
Venue: Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre, Nathan, QLD
Kick-off: 7:30pm

Olympic FC will be looking to bounce back from Grand Final heartache by taking down the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners.  Narrowly beaten 3-2 on Friday night, Olympic FC will feel like they have a great chance to progress at their temporary home of the Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre.  Captain Danny Byrne was realistic but optimistic in his team’s chances. “A win is a big ask and would be a great achievement, but it's not impossible,” he said. Intent on playing their usual game, Byrne was keen to stress where Olympic FC need to be vigilant, saying: “Playing any professional side you need to make sure you cut out silly mistakes because that's when they can hurt you.”

Central Coast Mariners travel to Queensland with two creditable draws against Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar under their belts.  The draw in Brisbane will be of particular delight to the Mariners as they put in a dominant performance at times.  Coach Phil Moss will be looking to advance from the tie despite facing good opposition away from home. “We’ve done plenty of video analysis on Olympic FC and are giving them all the respect that they deserve but nothing less than a win will be acceptable in my eyes,” Moss said.

Sydney Olympic (NSW) v Bentleigh Greens (Vic) #SOvBG
Venue: Lambert Park, Leichhardt, NSW
Kick-off: 7:30pm

Sydney Olympic have just over 48 hours to shake off the disappointment of Grand Final defeat to face Victorian side Bentleigh Greens. Returning to the ground where they were beaten, Sydney Olympic adopts Lambert Park as their own for the cup-tie. Both teams will back themselves to win the game, but Olympic are taking a pragmatic view of the opportunity to progress. “Bentleigh are no pushovers, they are at the top end of the NPL Victoria ladder and won their FFA Cup opening round match so it won't be easy,” said a club spokesperson. “We are as hungry as ever though to take this chance with both hands and get to the business end of the Cup”.

Bentleigh Greens also enter the tie with a defeat after losing their last league game to Melbourne Knights on Friday. Drawn away from home again, Bentleigh will take heart from beating Blacktown City in the last round. Not only was it a battling victory, Blacktown City finished NPL NSW with 9 points more than Sydney Olympic. It will be a tough night for Bentleigh as both teams have a Greek influence and Lambert Park will have a sizeable crowd. 

Tuggeranong United (ACT) v Melbourne Victory  #TUGvMVC
*Broadcast live on FOX SPORTS 3 and 3HD (with live crosses to all games)
Venue: Vikings Park, Wanniassa, ACT
Kick-off: 7:30pm  

The Tuggies bring FFA Cup football to Canberra but are under no illusion on the enormity of the task to progress. Head Coach Steve Forshaw underlined this fact but also served a reminder that the fixture isn’t a foregone conclusion. “We have the utmost respect for Victory and recognise the mountainous challenge playing them represents,” Forshaw said. “If, however, they are in any way off their game we will be ready to take advantage.”  Buoyed by a full squad to choose from, apart from Tom Ruiz, Forshaw feels that keeping out the powerful frontline of Victory is a key factor in the game. He was also mindful that possession his team has needs to be used wisely and profligacy with chances would hurt their hopes of progressing.

On the flipside, Melbourne Victory go into the game with supreme confidence. Unbeaten this pre-season, with wins against Perth and Adelaide in their last two games, Kevin Muscat’s men have only conceded one goal so far. Muscat will be quietly confident of being able to leave ACT still in the competition. Victory defender, and home town boy, Jason Geria is ready for action. “We’re really excited about heading to Canberra for this match,” Geria said. “There should be a good crowd and it looks like it’s going to be a really good game. I was born and raised in Canberra, and grew up in Tuggeranong, so it will be an added bonus to play in front of family and friends.”

When asked about the game plan, Geria explained the requirements for the team. “We need to make sure we go out and play the way the boss and the coaching staff expect us to. We’ll all be concentrating on doing what needs to be done and if we can do that, I think the result will most likely take care of itself.”

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