The Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 looms ever larger for the four remaining teams in the national capital.
The penultimate Preliminary Round matches pit Belconnen United against Canberra Olympic and Tigers FC against Tuggeranong United.
And with only one qualification spot allocated for the ACT, we can expect the final four to go hammer and tongs to make sure they take their place alongside the football elite of Australia.
For Belconnen United there is definitely a sense of unfinished business. The Blue Devils won the 2014 Federation Cup, when qualification for that years’ Westfield FFA Cup had already been decided, and were them unlucky runner’s-up in last season’s final where Gungahlin United progressed at their expense, winning narrowly 1-0 at McKellar Park. So, will it be a case of third time lucky?
Standing in their way are powerhouse Canberra Olympic. Olympic eased into this stage with a 3-0 success over Woden-Weston but will know that the Blue Devils will provide a sterner challenge, especially in their own backyard. Olympic can call on one of the strongest rosters in the national capital with a plethora of midfield options and a number of attacking permutations meaning they will always pose a threat.
When the pair met in the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues competition in April the match was a mini-classic. Olympic prevailed at O’Connor Enclosed by the odd-goal in five with goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou scoring one of their goals, converting a rebound when his initial penalty was saved. The match also saw another penalty, this one converted by Philippe Bernabo-Madrid whilst the Blue Devils saw centre back Matt Grbesa harshly sent off.
The second semi-final will see PS4 NPL leaders Tigers FC meet 2013 Federation Cup winners, and subsequent 2014 Westfield FFA Cup entrants, Tuggeranong United. Tuggeranong, who have had their troubles in the league competition in recent seasons, love a good cup tie. This will be their third semi-final appearance in four seasons with the club reaching the Quarter Finals in the other year.
The challenge of Tigers FC will be a tough one. It was the Tigers, then known as Cooma Tigers, who Tuggeranong defeated to win the Cup in that 2013 season but this is a vastly different task. Of the United squad that was named in the match program that late August evening only two remain with the club, Aaron Cashman and Cameron Doherty. Tigers meanwhile still call on the services of Francois Bangweni, Stephen Domenici and Goran Josifovski.
Remarkably, no fewer than half a dozen who now wear green, kitted up in gold and black during the Tigers match to the 2013 showdown with goalkeepers Tom Barton and Costa Fallas, joining the likes of Daniel Roberts, Marco Gayer, Liam Highmore and Domenic Colucciello in having played a part in getting the Cooma-based team into the Federation Cup Final before now plying their trade with the Kambah club.
Whilst both matches are too tough to call the excitement of the cup competition continues to grow and these fixtures are sure to capture the imagination of the Canberra football community as we take a step closer to crowning our Westfield FFA Cup Qualifying winners.
Wednesday 8th June 2016
Belconnen United v Canberra Olympic
(McKellar Park, 19:00)
Wednesday 8th June 2016
Tigers FC v Tuggeranong United
(Woden Park, 19:00)
* Both match venues subject to final approval pending weather conditions.