MELBOURNE VICTORY (VIC) VS ADELAIDE UNITED (SA)
Arguably the biggest rivalry of the A-League’s first decade will ignite for the first time in the FFA Cup, with Melbourne Victory hosting reigning Cup champions Adelaide United on Tuesday night at Aami Park. The Victory bowed out at this stage of the competition last year, and will be looking to atone in front of their own fans, something they have not had the privilege of doing in the short history of the competition.
Kevin Muscat has swung the changes from their last match, a nervy 3-2 win over Rockdale City Suns. Four youth team players, along with two others make way for a senior group of players, indicating the Victory are not taking this match lightly. One of those players is marquee acquisition Oliver Bozanic, and the six-times capped Socceroo is a good chance to make his competitive debut for the home side.
Adelaide have still never tasted defeat in the FFA Cup, and will look to leave a mark on their long-time rivals, given the sides will meet again just seventeen days after this clash in the first round of the A-League. Adelaide have often proven that they can dismantle less-favoured sides, avoiding playing into the hands of slower, scrappier opponents. However under new coach Guillermo Amor they showed that they can also defeat top-level opposition, a brave 2-1 win in extra time coming over Sydney FC in the round of 16.
With a full strength squad at his disposal, Amor’s Adelaide are more likely to defeat the Victory at Aami Park than any other side. Another strong showing from the Reds is inevitable in what is fast becoming ‘their’ competition.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
HUME CITY (VIC) VS OAKLEIGH CANNONS (VIC)
Victorian NPL sides Hume City and Oakleigh Cannons will contest what shapes as a hugely exciting clash for a place in the final four of the FFA Cup on Tuesday night. As the two sides seek to emulate the feat of Bentleigh Greens last year, it appears that Hume hold slight favouritism heading into the clash, given it will be played at their home, ABD stadium. Their fast, free flowing displays have overpowered Brisbane Strikers and Sydney Olympic so far this campaign, and their 4-3 loss in a friendly against Melbourne Victory last week should see them primed for a this match. Having lead in the 90th minute, Hume gained “a huge amount of confidence” according to striker Jai Ingham who spoke to 442. Ingham represents one of three lethal attackers in the Hume ranks, with Marcus Schroen and Theo Markelis rounding out the trio.
However the three may find it harder to fire against the disciplined Oakleigh, who boast former A-League defenders Steve Pantelidis and Matthew Foschini in their defence. With fellow former top-flight players Sean Rooney, Kofi Danning, and Mirjan Pavlovic – the scorer of the goal against Metrostars which sent them into the quarters – at the other end, Oakleigh may be able to frustrate Hume should they gain an early lead.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Marcus Schroen: 22-year old Schroen announced himself to Australian football with two headed goals against Brisbane Strikers which sent Hume into the last sixteen of this year’s Cup. Having suffered a serious knee injury in the 2013-14 season, a fresh start at Hume has seen him have a huge impact on the sides fortunes. Another impressive performance may see him fulfill his A-League ambitions.
2. Dusan Bosnjak: The former Melbourne-Heart youth captain has endured a frustrating year, injuries restricting his role as Oakleigh plummeted to 11th in the Victorian NPL. However the FFA Cup has provided a change in fortunes, and the attacking midfielder will be looking to add to the penalty he scored in the round of 32.
3. Nicholas Hegarty: The Englishman provides Hume with more than just an attacking presence on the pitch; the 29 year old is also employed by the club to do odd jobs such as washing kits and coaching juniors. Having spent time at Grimsby and St Mirren in the UK, Hegarty brings a wealth of experience to this clash.
4. Matthew Foschini: The former Victory defender will wear the captain’s armband for Oakleigh in this clash, his experience in the A-League and Asian Champions league belying his 24 years of age. Foschini provides a strong presence in defence and should go some way to stifling Hume’s attacking prowess.