Banksia Tigers roaring with Ibrahim Haydar

Ambitious Football St George side Banksia Tigers sent shockwaves as the Association club knocked National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s outfit Mounties Wanderers out of the FFA Cup as they defeated their opponents 4-1 on penalties at Cook Park on Wednesday evening.

Raucous scenes were soon met as the Tigers faithful were in dreamland thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of former NPL NSW Men’s custodian Jordan Nikolovski as well as the leadership of a familiar figure and a big unit at that, former Bankstown City FC, Sydney Olympic, Sydney United 58 and Parramatta FC star Ibrahim Haydar.

Currently in his fourth season at the club, the 33-year-old was over the moon when his chargers took care of the Wanderers setting up a date with NPL NSW Men’s top tier side Manly United at Cromer Park next Tuesday.

“I’ve had some big wins in my career but this victory over the Mounties Wanderers was up there especially because I’ve done it with a club that represents my community,” said Haydar.

“It’s probably the biggest win in the club’s history in regard to being seen on a state and national stage.

“The club is really proud and so they should be.”

Cromer Park is no stranger to Haydar who played there on many occasions during his NPL NSW Men’s days.

The big defender understands how tough it will be going up to the Northern Beaches on a cold Tuesday evening, but did take in some insightful intel as he watched Adam Griffiths’ men narrowly defeat one of Banksia Tigers’ rival clubs in the Football St George area, Arncliffe Aurora, 1-0 in their round 4 FFA Cup clash.

“I did watch the match against Aurora and it was nice seeing my former teammate in Richie Cardozo still doing his thing with Manly United.

“They looked really sharp even though they had many young players.

“We know what we are up against.

“Manly United at Cromer is one of the toughest fixtures in the NPL, the pitch is wide, and the ball moves quickly.

“We know we are in for a tough night but that’s what we thrive off, we’ll give it our all, it’s the Banksia Tigers way.”

Coached by a familiar NPL NSW Men’s figure in St George FC striker Hussein Akil, the Tigers will enter the Manly United clash with some heavy hitters with a couple of other former NPL NSW Men’s stars on their roster.

“Hussein is a former teammate of mine at Bankstown City FC and Sydney Olympic under ‘Tseka’ and ‘Flea’. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience for the young boys, he definitely has a future in coaching.

“Jordan (Nikolovski) has been a great acquisition, especially since we lost Alan Hamka who was a great goalkeeper with an ACL injury. He brings great professionalism to the club.

“We do have more quality in the team.

“Hussein Salemeh, another former NPL NSW Men’s player I played with at Bankstown City FC is a very tricky player to play against.

“We also have Hadi Hussein up top who is very sharp and can finish half a chance.”

Banksia Tigers is now part of Haydar’s DNA.

The no nonsense tough tackling defender who had a ferocious presence during his time in the NPL up until he left the league at 29 has loved the community feel of what Banksia Tigers has given to him.

“The club plays a massive part for me in my life right now.

“It’s one of my two community clubs.

“It means a lot representing the club and seeing people from my community support it.”

Away from the Cup, the local Football St George Premier League competition has gone from strength to strength as the former NPL NSW Men’s Premiership, Championship, Waratah Cup and NPL Finals Series winner heaped praise on the high standard the league has become.

“The local Football St George Open Men’s Premier League competition has definitely come through leaps and bounds.

“Almost every team has former NPL NSW Men’s players.

“It’s no surprise when you see some of the teams in this competition beating and challenging teams in higher divisions in the FFA Cup.

“It’s really tough, there are no real easy games. I think as the years go on, teams in these divisions will become even stronger with more ex-NPL NSW Men’s players filtering in.”

Banksia Tigers will face Manly United on Tuesday 18th of May at Cromer Park with kick-off set for 7pm.