PALM BEACH SHARKS (QLD) VS WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (NSW)
Palm Beach Sharks will look to continue their impressive FFA Cup form when they face Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday night. The Sharks, who reached last year’s quarter-finals, made it to this stage via an enthralling penalty shootout victory over South Melbourne in the round of 16. They will be looking to build on this sweet yet short Cup history, with a place in the quarters for a second successive year.
Midfielder Roman Hofman has expressed his excitement at playing the Asian Champions, and also declared the opportunity he sees the tie providing for himself.
“It’s important for me to do well to show I can step up to that (A-League) level,” he stated, with a future move up the grades mooted for the 21 year old former Newcastle youth player.
Western Sydney will need to reacquaint themselves with the expectation that comes with playing as the favourites, given they have been the underdog in most of their matches over the past year. Having snuck past Brisbane Roar by a goal in their first match, the Wanderers will continue to gel with what is a relatively new side. Striker Golgol Mehbratu returned from a long-injury layoff against the Roar and struck the winner, and another start is likely for the 24 year old.
No state league side has prevailed over A-League opposition so far in this year’s Cup, but it wouldn’t surprise to see this trend change here. The cup form of the Sharks may see the state-league side overcome Western Sydney, with many of Wanderers players still unfamiliar with each other.
HUME CITY FC (VIC) VS SYDNEY OLYMPIC (NSW)
It has been over a month since an opening night victory saw Hume City progress to the last sixteen of the FFA Cup, and they will finally return to action when they host Sydney Olympic on Tuesday evening. Hume will head into this match with plenty of reason to be confident, coming off the back of a win in the Victorian NPL finals series over Melbourne Knights on Friday evening. Goalkeeper Chris Oldfield denied the Knights four times in the shootout, meaning the side from Melbourne’s north will be prepared should this clash last the distance.
Olympic, by comparison, will be reeling from the defeat they suffered in their NPL final, also played on Friday. Given the Cup is now their only remaining competition, it would be fair to assume all their energy will be focussed on this clash as they look to advance to the quarter-finals.
Given both sides finished in similar positions in their respective leagues this season (Hume 5th in Victoria, Olympic 4th in NSW) and that both also played four days ago, there seems to be very little splitting the two. Hume’s recent penalty victories may give the Victorian’s the edge should the score be level after 120 minutes.
ROCKDALE CITY SUNS (NSW) VS MELBOURNE VICTORY (VIC)
Melbourne Victory have been assigned a trip to New South Wales for the second time this campaign, this time to face Rockdale City Suns at Jubilee Oval.
Rockdale undeniably have the odds stacked against them for this clash. Their NPL season finished a fortnight ago, and their homeground advantage has been stripped as their regular base Ilinden has been swapped for the slicker surface of Jubilee Oval. But former Newcastle Jets and Olyroos striker Marko Jesic insists these will be irrelevant factors come game day.
“We are going in there to win the game” he declared, before also revealing his team are ‘stoked’ to draw the Victory, who he lauded as the ‘best team in the country at the moment’. With fellow former A-League players in Ivan Necevski (recently re-signed by Sydney FC) and Dylan Macallister at either end of the park, a boilover certainly isn’t out of the question.
The Victory will be looking to continue their dismantling of lower ranked sides as they tune up for their A-League title defence. A 6-0 triumph over Balmain in the round of 32 and a 4-0 friendly win over Port Melbourne last Tuesday should see the Victory match-sharpened heading into the clash. Highly-rated young defender Thomas Deng debuted against Balmain, and has retained his place in the Cup squad for this match. Another start looms for Deng with Victory’s squad weakened by Olyroos selection, and he will be eager to impress in what should be a straightforward match for his side.
METROSTARS SC (SA) VS OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC (VIC)
Australian football has seen many epic South Australia vs Victorian battles over the years, and this is set to continue with MetroStars FC hosting Oakleigh Cannons at the Elite Systems Football Centre in Adelaide’s north-west.
MetroStars, the 2014 NPL champions, produced a fast, physical display to overcome Blacktown City in the round of 32, two second half goals proving the difference. Having wound up their season in seventh the Stars know there is no guarantee of returning next season, so will be desperate to advance.
Oakleigh, similarly, wrapped up a disappointing Victorian season in 11th place a fortnight ago. But their squad of battle hardened, former A-League players will be raring to respond to this with Cup success. Cannon’s coach Arthur Papas will have names such as Steve Patelidis, Mirjan Pavlovic, Matthew Foschini and Kofi Danning at his disposal. With very little separating these two teams and a place in the quarter finals up for grabs this match is proving very hard to predict, meaning another marathon match is on the cards for the Cannon’s. Having played 120 minutes against North Queensland three weeks ago, their extra-time and penalty experience may give them the edge over the South Australians.