Brisbane qualifying enters business end

The PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland clubs have entered the Cup fray meaning one of the biggest weeks of local football in Brisbane looms as teams look to progress a step closer to a prized spot in the Round of 32.

Some big names have already exited through the back door, including Flight Centre Premier League heavyweights Lions FC and Mitchelton, both still reeling from defeat at the hands of 'giant killers' Brisbane Knights from Capital League 1.

Big crowds will be inevitable, so soak up some of the intoxicating atmosphere only the round-ball code can provide.

Selected matches will also be LIVE streamed on the Football Brisbane Facebook Page

Albany Creek vs Moreton Bay United
Friday 7:30pm at Wolter Park

Albany Creek have improved markedly since last season and are a genuine chance to win this game against their extremely close neighbours. Last weekend was the first real hiccup so far when they were soundly beaten 4-1 at Rochedale, but that will have little bearing because this has turned into the biggest game so far. If anyone knows what to expect from MBU, it’s Royce Brownlie... and Pouria Nabi... and Adam Piddick.

Moreton Bay United would probably have preferred to be playing anyone else because all the pressure will be on them. Disregarding last weekend’s 7-0 drubbing of the Fire, it’s been three matches since they’ve won and they find themselves just outside of the top four. They’ve always under-achieved in the Westfield FFA Cup, mostly because of high expectations, but this could easily be their year.

Brisbane City vs Logan Lightning
Friday 7:30pm at Corporate Travel Management Stadium

Brisbane City are the only former NSL club not to have returned to the big stage and won’t have fond memories of being knocked out by Logan in this competition in the past. Perennial under-achievers at this level, now has never been a better time for them to make a claim with a top four place and an excellent win over FNQ fresh in the memory. Friday night will ensure a big home crowd with plenty of support from the faithful.

Logan Lightning may have cursed their draw, which could have been easier, but in the back of their minds they’ll know they’ve won at Spencer Park before. It’s worth noting two excellent performances over the last two rounds as their squad continues to gel. It’s unlikely Kosmina knows a lot about them which gives them a significant advantage if they play their cards right. Defence is the key.

Rochedale Rovers vs Brisbane Strikers
Saturday 6pm at Underwood Park

Rochedale Rovers confounded everyone, including themselves, by losing their best player for the season then finding some genuine form and hitting the top of the table. Still, they will be solid underdogs going into this contest but a noisy home crowd will play into their hands, particularly if they go in front. They’ll have extra incentive with former players returning including last year’s hero, Greg Cheshire.

Brisbane Strikers are casually wiping the floor with everyone but they haven’t had the toughest of schedules in recent times. Second on the table and with Gold Coast City not part of the group, they are favourites to continue their 100% qualifying record. But this is when the real deal starts with a place in the round of 32 more important right now than the title. The pressure is right on them but only because they are very good.

Western Pride vs Olympic FC
Saturday 7pm at Briggs Road Sporting Complex

Western Pride are in the bottom half of the table but they have been unlucky with all four of their draws coming against excellent opposition. Last weekend they went down to SWQ Thunder in an upset which could dent their confidence, but this is the first home game they’ve ever had in the Westfield FFA Cup so it will be a special event. Enthusiasm will go a long way towards an upset.

Olympic FC were terrible when they got knocked out of the Westfield FFA Cup by Moggill last year but things have changed considerably at Goodwin Park. A narrow loss to Gold Coast City last weekend means they drop below the Strikers into third place but everyone knows this team is good. Anything other than a win would be a failure but they will dominate statistics. They won’t lose if they get in front.

Souths United vs Holland Park Hawks
Saturday 7pm at Wakerley Park

Souths United won 7-1 on Saturday and looked every bit the Westfield FFA Cup surprise packet even if their opposition didn’t play particularly well. Jon McKain has attracted all the attention but Alexander, Maher and Omerovic are making all the headlines. Where they are at the moment is still a matter of conjecture but when they play well they are a match for anyone. A clean sheet needs to be their target.

Holland Park Hawks have been a strange beast so far with more early reds than a mid-day kick-off at Anfield. Third place in the tightest Flight Centre Premier for aeons is some achievement and at times they have done it in style. A few former players are back on the list which makes them even tougher. And they already are a very tough team. Make no mistake, they’ll score goals in this one.

Brisbane Knights vs Peninsula Power
Tuesday 7pm at Brisbane Knights Sports Complex

Brisbane Knights got to this point by beating, arguably, the two best teams in the Flight Centre Premier League whilst not playing particularly well in their own competition and now they’ve drawn the star-studded Power. They have a good chance of getting a result with recent league form being pretty good and a squad full of experienced players who know how to lift when it’s needed.

Peninsula Power must have an eye on getting through to the Round of 32 having come desperately close the first time round and being one of the favourites every year since. With variable league form, there is no reason they can’t go on an extended run with or without a good draw. Two of their big rivals have already been knocked out and they are unlikely to make the same mistake.

Southside Eagles vs Grange Thistle
Tuesday 7:30pm at Memorial Park

Southside Eagles had an impressive Westfield FFA Cup run in 2016 and with a handy draw could repeat the dose. The big difference however is form. At this point last year they were challenging for promotion but are sitting eighth on the ladder despite some good recent results. Playing at home is a significant advantage and they have a solid understanding of their opposition.

Grange Thistle are yet to convert their promotion into success with only a single point from eight games, turmoil in the coaching ranks and results getting worse rather than better. In the great tradition of knockout competitions that could mean they string together a run of great performances worthy of their squad. They would have breathed a sigh of relief when a Capital League 1 team came out of the barrel.

UQFC vs Redlands United
Wednesday 7:30pm at University of Queensland Oval 3

UQFC are the lowest ranked team left in the competition, sitting second last in Capital League 1, but it’s misleading considering they have lost multiple games against teams in the top half of the table by a single goal margin. They’ll be largely unknown to their opposition and have nothing to lose. Upsets will happen somewhere and it could just be the Students.

Redlands United won the 2016 Grand Final and dumped Adelaide United out of the Westfield FFA Cup with the most sensational upset in the short history of the competition but things have been a lot grimmer this season as they already face the likelihood of missing the top four. Early season results were abysmal but they have gotten better and will still be favourites to go through to the next round.

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