Sharks 'buzzing' over Wanderers FFA Cup test

Cup specialists Palm Beach Sharks are buzzing to be playing Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup as they look to progress past the round of 16 once again.

The NPL Queensland side will take on the current Asian champions on September 1 at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast.

Palm Beach progressed past the round of 32 with a penalty-shootout win over South Melbourne while the Wanderers knocked out Brisbane Roar 1-0.

Sharks central defender Eoghan Murphy says his team was happy to have drawn the A-League side.

“Yeah we were all buzzing,” he told FourFourTwo.

“That's what the Cup is about, drawing a big team playing in a stadium and causing an upset. It's what we do best. Every match is tough when it comes to the FFA Cup it doesn't matter who you face.

“It'll be good to have them at our home ground Cbus Stadium, hopefully they draw a big crowd.”

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Last year Western Sydney was part of one of the biggest upsets of the fledgling competition when they were eliminated by Adelaide City. Murphy believes the Wanderers, who famously took out the Asian Champions League in 2014, will be motivated to do well in the FFA Cup this year.

“I suppose last year they didn't take it as seriously because of their Asian Cup obligations, which is fair enough,” he admitted.

“So I'm guessing they'll want to win it this year after an underwhelming A-League season last year.”

The Sharks have fast built a reputation as Cup specialists after making it through to the quarter-finals in 2014 and by beating former NSL giants South Melbourne in the round of 32 last month. The Queensland team, which has produced Socceroos Tommy Oar and Mitch Nichols, came back from a goal behind and won on penalties 8-7.

“It was such a good feeling after that win, not so much from who we beat but the fact that we were through to the next round,” Murphy said.

“I don't think we felt like the underdogs at all, we knew what we had to do and we went out there and delivered. It was business as usual.”

The centre back was sent off in the 113rd minute of extra time so couldn’t take a penalty in the shootout. Murphy said the Sharks hadn’t practiced penalties before the game.

“No we don't practice penalties because at the end of the day, nothing can compare to the pressure of a real penalty shootout,” he said.

“There was mixed feelings for myself getting sent off but it is what it is and I'm glad we got through. Like I've said time and time again, the football community have short memories so next year no one is going to remember what Palm Beach did in 2014.

“So we need to continue to make our mark this year to stay fresh in the faces of the football community Australia-wide.”

The Sharks enjoyed an outstanding 2014 season where they took out the Premiership and Grand Final double in the NPL Queensland. This year Palm Beach has struggled to replicate those heights, with the team currently sitting in eighth spot in the league.

The Sharks have lost a number of key players at the start of the year, including Chris Lucas, Troy Ruthven and Danny Dragicevic, who left to join clubs in the NPL Victoria.

But Murphy has praised the influence of Palm Beach’s coach Grae Piddick, who has been with the club since 2013 and works full-time as physiotherapist with Department of Education and Training.

“We've got a good young coach who is as ambitious as us to go further in the game,” the stopper said.

“It's always good to have people around you with the same drive and goals. The thing I like most about him, is that we go into every match prepared, knowing exactly what to expect from the opposition.”

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