Last year’s FFA Cup quarter-finalists Palm Beach Sharks are remaining wary of little-known opponents the Noosa Lions with a spot in this year’s round of 32 on the line.
The two Queensland sides clash this Saturday night at the Gold Coast’s Mallawa Complex for a spot in the final 32 of the FFA Cup.
Palm Beach beat South West Queensland Thunder on penalties in the sixth round, while the Lions defeated United Warriors 3-0.
The Sharks ply their trade in the National Premier Leagues Queensland and in 2014 made it all the way to the cup quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by the Central Coast Mariners.
Palm Beach were one of just three non-A-League teams to make the final eight, alonside Bentleigh Greens and Adelaide City.
Noosa Lions, who were established in 1973, play in the Sunshine Coast Football zone in the McDonald’s Premier Men, two divisions below the Sharks.
The Lions lost a fourth-round cup tie to Kawana 5-1 but were resintated to the competition after it was revealed Kawana had fielded an inelgible player.
They then upset NPL Queensland outfit Sunshine Coast FC 3-2 in the fifth round.
Palm Beach are the heavy favourites going into the game but defender Eoghan Murphy told FourFourTwo his team is not taking the Lions lightly.
“Well, to be fair, we don't know much about them at all,” he admitted.
“Obviously they don't get the coverage the NPL does, so we can't watch the games.
"They beat the Sunshine Coast NPL team so obviously they have something about them, and we lost against Sunshine Coast earlier in the season so it won't be an easy match.”
The Sharks took out the double in 2014 as they were crowned champions and premiers in the NPL.
But, this year, Palm Beach sit in fifth spot on the ladder with five wins, three draws and four losses, 11 points behind leaders Moreton Bay United.
The Sharks have partly been victims of their own success with key players Chris Lucas and Troy Ruthven joining Bentleigh Greens, and Danny Dragicevic also departing.
Palm Beach will again be led by former Gold Coast United midfielder Kristian Rees.
“He's still got a bit of juice left in his legs and he's good value to have around,” Murphy said.
“The squad we have now is definitely capable of doing what we did last year.
"We have a lot of fresh faces in the squad and that's purely down to what we did last year.
“That's what's attracted them so they're going to want to put their names out there and have a good cup run.”
Muprhy describes the crunch cup encounter with the Lions as the Sharks' most important game of the year so far.
“With the qualification for the cup the second year in a row up for grabs this is by far the most important game of the year for us so far,” the central defender said.
“We're a young team and they'll have a few older players so that might come in to play a little bit with them trying to get in our heads.
"But we've learnt from our mistakes this year so that definitely won't be happening.”comments