Quiet confidence for 'Socceroos nursery' in FFA Cup

In a clash of two former NSL clubs, Sydney United 58 travel down to Melbourne for a nostalgic voyage to play Heidelberg in Wednesday’s FFA Cup round of 16 game.

Formed as Sydney Croatia in 1958, the Western Sydney based club has been a long time nursery for the Socceroos, with names like Ned Zelic, Zeljko Kalac. Graham Arnold, Mark Bosnich, Robbie Slater, Tony Popovic and Mile Jedinak coming through the system.

In the last 32 game against South Hobart, United advanced on penalties thanks to the heroics of former A-League player Panny Nikas.

Even though the game was decided by spot kicks, the skilful midfielder, who is considered one the best players outside the A-League, told FourFourTwo that the result was never in doubt.

“With all due respect I don’t think they played outrageous football,” the 27-year-old said.

“However they scored two nice goals. It was a combination of finishing their chances and our mistakes.

“I thought we were always in control. We just remained calm and focused and knew that once we got the first goal, things would turn around.

“I was happy to get two goals and an assist for my team. But overall the team should be credited on the way they played and turned it around in the second half.”

Looking forward to the game against their former NSL rivals, Nikas is optimistic United can get the right result.

“We understand what Heidelberg is about,” he said.

“Hopefully I can put in a good performance and we can play some good football and get the result and progress into the next round.

 “It’s a one off game, we’ll go there with a positive mindset.

“The NSW NPL season is done for us after we just missed out on the finals.

“The boys have been training well and it’s only going to be positive travelling down to Melbourne together. Preparing for the game together.

“We are preparing the best we can so we can get the job done and we are quietly confident that we can do that.”

Photo credit: Football NSW

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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.