ADELAIDE UNITED (SA) VS SYDNEY FC (NSW)
Wednesday night’s clash will see our first ever FFA Cup rematch between two sides, with the A-League’s Adelaide United hosting Sydney FC at Hindmarsh stadium. Last season it was Adelaide who, on their way to the inaugural title, defeated the Sky Blues 3-1 in extra time at the quarter-final stage. A Bruce Djite extra-time double eventually split the sides after the two were locked at one apiece after 90 minutes.
This campaign the two are meeting one stage earlier, with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs. Sydney encountered little trouble in surpassing Sorrento FC in the previous round, racking up 10 shots on goal to one as they cruised to a 2-0 victory, with goals to veteran Shane Smeltz (penalty) and Max Burgess who has returned to the Sky Blues after a stint with the Newcastle Jets. It could’ve been a larger margin for Sydney as they struck the woodwork on multiple occasions and missed a penalty. What could have been for Sydney was demonstrated by Adelaide, who emphatically returned to Cup football with a 6-1 thumping of Darwin Olympic. A brace to Jimmy Jeggo put the result beyond doubt before halftime, the match also seeing striker Sergio Cirio finding the net for his seventh FFA Cup goal.
The Spaniard will undoubtedly be hungry to add to his tally at the Hindmarsh on Wednesday evening. The Reds under new coach Guillermo Amor should be favourites agiven the home court advantage and Sydney going into the game undermanned.
MELBOURNE CITY (VIC) VS WELLINGTON PHOENIX (NZ)
The FFA Cup will grace Melbourne’s Aami Park for the first time on Wednesday evening, and will also see Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix feature in the round of 16 for the first time. City scraped past Edgeworth Eagles in the round of 32 courtesy of two exquisite Aaron Mooy free kicks. With Mooy since signed as their marquee man, City will likely roll out more of their off-season recruits against Wellington, with Ivan Franjic and Aaron Hughes possibilities to debut subject to fitness. They will need to improve if they are to overcome A-League opposition and avoid another disappointing cup campaign, following last years first-round exit.
Wellington prevailed 1-0 in a tense affair against the Central Coast in their last match, a scrappy goal to Kwabena Appiah-Kubi following a goalkeeping howler the difference.
Wellington find themselves in an interesting position competing in the FFA Cup. As the sole non-Australian representative many see them as somewhat gatecrashing, taking the spot of a local side (and their chance of exposure). For now, in terms of the Cup, they have the backing of the FFA, and with their A-League licence set to expire at season’s end, success in the Cup may only highlight the chances they are depriving Australian football. This is not to say the Phoenix are not inclined to try; from the club’s point of view, a competitive Wellington will improve the quality of football in Australia, not diminish it. With the future of the club unknown, trophies become all the more important, and the next step for Wellington is to knock off City on their own patch and progress to the quarters.
LIONS FC (QLD) VS PERTH GLORY (WA) Perth Glory will look to continue their FFA Cup success when they meet Lions FC of Queensland on Wednesday night. The Glory scraped past a persistent Newcastle Jets in a thrilling two-all draw last round, the WA boys eventually prevailing 4-3 on penalties. Gyorgy Sandor and goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson were hailed as the heroes of the shootout, and the two will look to star again as the club recovers from last season’s salary cap scandal.
Last campaign Nebojsa Marinkovic and Andy Keogh were Perth’s main men, scoring five times apiece as the side made the inaugural final. With Keogh now gone their goalscoring duties fall heavily on Marinkovic, and the Serbian’s goal last week showed he may be up to the challenge, at least in the short-format of the Cup. Lions FC provided the first great upset of the competition in the round of 32, overcoming South Australia’s Croydon Kings 2-1. The Queensland outfit scored either side of the half, Shoheel Khan and Andre Bonotto (penalty) proving the difference on the scoreboard.
Lions have finished top of the Brisbane Premier League in recent weeks so although they do have other priorities, coach Warren Moon insists the side will do their utmost to enjoy the competition, stating his side will “enjoy the ride and see where it takes us”.
HEIDELBERG UNITED (VIC) VS SYDNEY UNITED 58 FC (NSW)
Wednesday’s only all-state league clash sees Victoria’s Heidelberg United face Sydney United 58 FC of New South Wales. Heidelberg impressed on their opening night, racing to a three-nil lead against the more-fancied Broadmeadow Magic before half time. Goals to Jack Petrie, Kane Sheppard and Dan Heffernan saw Heidelberg make the best possible FFA Cup debut and become one of the five Victorian sides to advance to this stage.
Their opponents for this clash, Sydney United, progressed courtesy of a pulsating victory over South Hobart. United found themselves two goals down just after the half, but dragged themselves back into the contest via a Panagiotos Nikas brace. Chris Triantis had seemingly completed the comeback with his 81st minute strike, only for the Tasmanians to draw level. Eventually United prevailed on penalties, and will now look to better their 2014 cup run, when they were defeated at this stage.
Managed by Mark Rudan, United are looking to use the Cup as a springboard back into the spotlight. With their halcyon days of the 80’s and 90’s now long gone, the side will be desperate to make an impact in the ‘A-League era’. As for the Bergers, it could be goal machine Dan Heffernan’s last game before a mooted move to Aleague outfit Central Coast Mariners so what better way to leave than with a win in the Cup.