Heidelberg United: Mariners took our Suarez

Heidelberg United will need to find a way past Melbourne City without their most potent attacking weapon.

The Bergers drew the A-League outfit in their FFA Cup quarter final on September 29 but will be without English striker Daniel Heffernan who signed with Central Coast Mariners.

Heffernan has scored 32 goals in the past two Victorian NPL seasons and also put the ball in the back of the net in the club's two recent Cup games.

Coach George Katsakis is unhappy to lose his star striker at this crucial stage in the national knockout but said the Mariners showed little sympathy for the club’s plight.

“Of course, Daniel Heffernan’s loss is massive,” Katsakis said.

“It’s like saying take Suarez out of Liverpool. He scores our goals.  We prepare all year around him and his ability to score from general play and set pieces.

“And now we have lost that and we have been stripped from having a quality player that would have helped us progress even further.

“We tried to do everything possible to keep him till the end of our FFA Cup involvement. But the Mariners weren’t very accommodating, to be honest.

“This is where Australian football needs to improve. I think Football Federation Australia needs to have a really good look at the whole system.

“At the moment it’s probably not working for grassroots football and they need to make some changes to accommodate all the small teams.”

Regardless of the loss of Heffernan, Katsakis, a former Heidelberg player himself, said facing City was a huge moment in the history of the club.

“It benchmarks our year in terms of where we planned to be and where we are today,” said Katsakis who recently passed his 200-game milestone as coach.

“From all involved it’s such a big event that it certainly is one of the highlights of our 20-year history.”

“I think the mentality of the players, being in the shop window and being on the main stage of Australian football, is what is inspiring them at the moment to participate in this competition. It gives everyone an opportunity to be looked at.

“We have made the semi-finals of the Dockerty Cup, we have made the finals of the NPL and now we are in the last eight of the FFA Cup.

“It’s a very every successful season.”

As for the looming battle with City: “If we can keep up the good work and the form that we’ve had of late, at least we’ll give it a go.

“We are not going to lay down, for no-one. We’ll certainly try to play to our strengths, and hopefully push them for a result.”

Main Photo: George Katsakis 

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.