FFA Cup round of 32 preview: Week three action

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It’s week three of the FFA Cup Round of 32 and another Super Tuesday delivering four intriguing matchups.

Sydney plays host to two NPL games: Blacktown City v Bentleigh Greens and Sydney United 58 FC v Far North Queensland Heat.  In the only A-League tie of the game, Melbourne City entertains Sydney FC.  The final game is a true cup-tie of ‘David and Goliath’ proportions when Western Sydney Wanderers make the trip to South Australia to face NPLSA’s Adelaide City.

Blacktown City (NSW) v Bentleigh Greens (Vic) #BTCvBG
Venue: Lilys Football Centre, Seven Hills
KO: 7:30pm

The matchup between Blacktown City and Bentleigh Greens sees two sides that have been pushing for success in their relevant leagues. Blacktown City are currently 3rd in NPL NSW while Bentleigh Greens are 4th in NPL Victoria.  Both go into the cup-tie with draws. The home team played out a 0-0 stalemate with fellow FFA Cup qualifiers Sydney United 58 FC while Bentleigh Greens achieved a creditable 2-2 draw at 3rd placed Heidelberg United.

Blacktown’s general manager Ken Schembri thinks their FFA Cup opponents will be “solid” but feels his team is “a well balanced side with good attackers.”  They are now three games without a win but hope that top scorer Travis Major can find the net again. Bentleigh Greens will hope captain Wayne Wallace can shake off a muscle strain that forced him off against Heidelberg United. One fact that will be overused this week is that Blacktown City can count England legends Bobby Charlton and Kevin Keegan as ex-players (albeit only three games between them).

Sydney United 58 FC (NSW) v Far North Queensland Heat (Qld)
#SUvFNQ Venue: Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor
KO: 7:30pm

Even though they are reigning NPL NSW champions, Sydney United 58 FC have not found it quite so straightforward this season. They are currently sitting in 8th place after their draw against Blacktown City. Their coach, Mark Rudan, is confident they can progress and cited “home crowd support and artificial pitch” as key aspects of the game. Having won five out of the last six home games, Rudan will be hoping that injury worries won’t hamper progress. Defenders Nathan Sherlock and Ibrahim Haydar are both doubts for Tuesday’s game.

Making the journey from northern Queensland, FNQ Heat will be looking to shake off the effects of a 3-0 home defeat.  Sitting 5th in NPL Queensland, FNQ were soundly beaten at home by league leaders Palm Beach Sharks on Saturday.  Spearheading the attack for the Queenslanders is ex-A-League player Alex Smith.  Released by Wellington Phoenix, Smith scored 15 goals from 18 games this season.  What will be worrying for FNQ Heat and Smith is that he has only found the net once in his last 7 games.

Melbourne City v Sydney FC #MBCvSYD
Venue: Morshead Park Stadium, Ballarat
KO: 7:30pm

The only all A-League tie of the evening sees the first competitive game for the newly named Melbourne City. They take on Sydney FC at Morshead Stadium having the slight edge (4 wins v 3 wins) in the head-to-head stakes. 

Having Damian Duff and Robert Koren in their ranks will buoy Melbourne City.  Both have experience in abundance domestically and internationally.  Unbeaten in pre-season, Melbourne City will be hoping that this continues against Sydney FC.  This is a far sterner test that faced on their tour of England and coach John van’t Schip will be looking for improvement from his team.

Sydney FC have faced English Premier League opposition twice in pre-season and achieved a standout 3-1 victory against West Ham United.  Matt Jurman was quick to comment on pre-season form: “Had some good games against EPL opposition and played well in those games which gives us confidence as a team to go into this game.” Coach Graham Arnold could choose to give new signing and Austrian international Marc Janko his debut in the game.

Adelaide City v Western Sydney Wanderers #ACvWSW
Venue: Marsden Sport Complex, Adelaide
KO: 7:30pm (8:00pm AEST)

Having Juventus on Australian soil will be a huge motivator for the South Australian team – the club bore the same name until 1966. Adelaide City are looking to add to the giant killing ranks and take out the Asian Champions League quarterfinalists.  A disappointing 1-0 home defeat on Saturday along with recently losing their regular goalkeeper Luke Ostbye to surgery on an ACL hasn’t been ideal preparation. Leading goalscorer Nicholas Bucco is still feeling optimistic: “The fact we're underdogs and having nothing to lose gives us a sense of belief that we can go out there and cause an upset.” Bucco highlighted his strike partner, Joel Allwright, as a danger to WSW. “I feel like Joel has all the makings of a match winner as he has electrifying pace which scares teams and can finish really well in front of goal.”

With three 1-0 away wins in friendly matches, Tony Popovic and his WSW team will be looking to extend this record.  Despite having their upcoming ACL game against Guangzhou Evergrande just over a week away, the coach used their last match to give his entire a squad a run out. Eyes will be on Vitor Saba who will bring Brazilian flair to Wanderers. Adelaide’s Bucco doesn’t doubt the commitment that will be on show on Tuesday. “We know that Popovic always says he wants to win every game and every trophy and I'm sure this is no different,” he said.