South Melbourne are delighted to be back in the national spotlight and say they won’t be underestimating FFA Cup opponents Palm Beach Sharks.
Last year the former NSL giants were knocked out of the Cup in the seventh round by city rivals Melbourne Knights.
This time around it was a different story as they booked their spot in the final 32 by pumping Frankston Pines 6-1.
They now travel to the Gold coast to take on the NPL Queensland side. The Sharks were one of the surprise packets in the inaugural year of the national knockout comp, making it all the way to the quarter-finals.
South Melbourne head coach Chris Taylor told FourFourTwo he won’t be taking Palm Beach lightly.
“It was one of our main objectives at the start of the season to reach the round of 32, given the fact that we failed at the final hurdle last year,” Taylor said.
“Our main goal is to put up a good performance for our supporters. We are under no illusions that Palm Beach are a very good side, given their successes in recent years. Our focus is on this game and not what happens beyond that.”
Palm Beach, who won the double in NPL Queensland last year, possess a number of exciting young players, while South Melbourne currently sit in second place on the NPL Victoria ladder, four points behind league leaders Bentleigh Greens on 46 points.
Hellas has only lost two games all season, with three draws and 13 victories. Founded in 1958, the iconic club snared the NPL Victoria championship last year, adding to an impressive trophy haul. The NSL four-time champions and three times premiers were also crowned the Oceania Confederation’s Club of the Century.
Taylor said the club is thrilled to part of the round of 32.
“Our fans have been desperate to get back onto the national stage and in an environment that we deserve,” he said.
“South Melbourne, its history and the brand are quite significant in Australian football, so it’s great to have it once again on a national level.
“The club, fans, volunteers, staff and board are extremely pleased, but also aware that there is plenty of hard work ahead.”
Currently playing for South Melbourne is former Gold Coast United and Adelaide United midfielder Jake Barker-Daish. Taylor said the squad has a number of players that are capable of playing in the A-League.
“Nick Epifano is having a very good season,” he said.
“His goal against Melbourne Knights, which got us into the last 32 of the FFA cup, highlights just how talented he is.
“Iqi Jawadi is another quality midfielder, and Milos Lujic's goal scoring abilities – having scored nearly 50 goals in his two seasons with us – would also make him a sought after player.
“We also have younger players featuring in our squad, like 17-year old Andy Kecojovic, who in time will definitely be capable of playing at the next level.”