FFA Cup preview: Round of 32 final week action

It’s almost as if each of the first three weeks delivered too much in one night, so the final week of the Round of 32 is split over two pulsating nights of action.

On Tuesday evening, the minnows from Hakoah will be fending off a shark attack from Palm Beach while Stirling Lions will be looking to take out the big cats from Brisbane Roar. If that whets your appetite then Wednesday’s games are just as intriguing. Going head to head in Wollongong, South Coast Wolves are facing Central Coast Mariners while WA’s Bayswater City are hoping to defeat the Melbourne Victory.

Hakoah Sydney City (NSW) v Palm Beach Sharks (Qld)  #HAKvPBS
Venue: Hensley Athletic Field, Pagewood
Date: Tuesday August 19
KO: 7:30pm

Neutrals will be rooting for the underdogs when NSW State League Division 1 side Hakoah Sydney City take on NPL Queensland’s Palm Beach Sharks. Hakoah, like South Springvale, play in the fourth tier of football and will be hoping to emulate the victory of three weeks ago. At full strength, Hakoah are aware of the enormity of their task. “Hakoah has been quietly going about its own preparation for the Cup and believe we have a chance to cause an upset in front of our own fans,” said Adam Joseph from the club.  He also pointed out that their synthetic pitch may be a leveller.

Having swept their NPL Queensland rivals aside, Palm Beach go into this game confident.  Coach Grae Piddick was categorical in his assessment of the tie. “No pressure more or less than our other games,” Piddick said. “We are the away team so the pressure will be on Hakoah.”  Despite having three players not available due to injury and being cup tied,  Palm Beach are favourites. Hakoah will need to keep Palm Beach’s potent strikeforce at bay if they wish to stay in the competition.

Stirling Lions (WA) v Brisbane Roar  #SLvBRI
Venue: Western Australia Athletics Stadium
Date: Tuesday August 19
KO: 7:30pm (9:30pm AEST)

Being outside of the qualifying places for the finals will be a motivator for Stirling Lions to go on a cup run. Standing in their way is the reigning A-league champions, Brisbane Roar.  Goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski highlighted areas where his team might get an advantage: “The travel, the unknown surface, the time of which the game is played and I believe the unknown of our players.”  While midfielder, Miki Vujanic, was quick to point out potential match-winners in David Micevski and Moses Kalau he also highlighted areas of concern for their own opponents. “I think the pitch may play a part in the contest,” Vujanic said. “I doubt Brisbane will have played on a surface like the one at the WA Athletics Stadium, whereas, we have been playing on these types of pitches all year.”

Brisbane Roar will be wary of their opponents in light of Adelaide United’s shock victory. “We’ve already seen one upset in the Round of 32 and we want to go out there and ensure we’re not another statistic.” Coach Mike Mulvey is aware that this is his side’s first competitive game of the season. Mulvey is also contending with losing Berisha and Franjic to other clubs whilst new signing Mensur Kurtisi finds his feet for Brisbane. 

South Coast Wolves (NSW) v Central Coast Mariners  #SCWvCCM
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Date: Wednesday August 20
KO: 7:30pm

They may be a young team but South Coast Wolves are ready to take on the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners. Manager Nahuel Arrarte was quick to highlight where his team has been successful this season. “The likes of Jordan Murray, Ben Zucco, James Baldacchino, Darcy Maden, Zac McKenzie all under the age of 20 have played a big role this year,” Arrarte said. Club captain Jacob Timpano will miss the game due to ankle surgery but that didn’t stop them registering a morale boosting 5-1 victory on Sunday to conclude their NPL NSW season.

Central Coast Mariners go into the tie having recently played an experimental game against their Academy team. Coming out 4-1 winners, CCM’s coach Phil Moss will have learned more about this squad. After losing five players to retirement and contract cancellations,  Moss has looked to Europe to bolster his squad. He has secured the services of Richard Vernes (from Budapest Honved) and Malick Mane (from IFK Goteborg) on loan deals.

Bayswater City (WA) v Melbourne Victory  #BWCvMVC
Venue: Western Australia Athletics Stadium
Date: Wednesday August 20
KO: 7:30pm (9:30pm AEST)

A 3-0 home win will be good preparation for Bayswater City as they get ready to entertain Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night. Coach Chris Coyne will use all of his experience to ensure his team, leaders of NPL Western Australia, transfer their league form into the tie. After losing just one game in the last eight, Bayswater City will fancy upsetting their more illustrious opponents.

Melbourne Victory bring an abundance of playing riches and Connor Pain was quick to recognise this. “Carl (Valeri) and Matthieu (Delpierre) have both played in Europe against some of the biggest teams in the world, while Bes (Berisha) has always been an opponent I’ve admired,” Pain said. “We’re lucky enough to have him on our team this season.”

Four victories in friendly games, including Bentleigh Greens who progressed to the round of 16 last week, have been good preparation. Despite this, Melbourne Victory head into the game with a respectful mindset. “Bayswater are a strong team and we certainly won’t be taking this game lightly,” Pain said. “We know they’ve got nothing to lose and it’s a knockout game, so we’ll obviously be going out there to win it and play to our full potential.”


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