Green Gully coach Arthur Papas hopes to add slayer of an A-League opponent to his impressive Westfield FFA Cup credentials as he prepares for Tuesday night’s MD2 in the Round of 32.
At the Green Gully Reserve in Keilor, Papas’ side host rejuvenated Hyundai A-League outfit Central Coast Mariners in the broadcast game on Fox Sports.
It should be an intriguing clash as the first of the A-League big boys face NPL opposition.
And Papas is a coach with an excellent FFA Cup record - he can boast having qualified two different clubs for the last two editions of the FFA Cup.
In 2015, at the helm of PS4 NPL Victorian outfit Oakleigh Cannons, Papas began with a terrific win in the Round of 32.
At home in Melbourne in a thriller, the Cannons defeated Far North Queensland Heat 5-4 on penalties to progress to the Round of 16.
Dean Piemonte with a long-range special iced by a Panenka from Mirjan Pavlovic in the shootout just two of the highlights on a special night in Oakleigh.
Onto the Round of 16, and away to SA powerhouse MetroStars, the Cannons pulled off a brilliant 1-0 win courtesy of another Pavlovic goal (the big striker also scored on Tuesday night for Marconi in their loss to Hume at the ABD in the Round of 32).
Oakleigh were eventually undone by Hume City in the quarter-finals losing 3-2 at the ABD.
Now Papas eyes another good Cup run with the Green Machine from Gully – and he’s starting with what he says is a “tough draw”.
“You know if you draw an A-League team early on in the Cup, it’s as tough as it gets. But if you’re going to face them, maybe early on is the best time,” he told www.theffacup.com.au
“Advantage is that we play them at home and they’ll have to come out to cold Keilor on a windy night most likely,” he said with a smile.
“So not the same conditions you get afforded at A-League level but it’s something they’ll have to overcome and we’re going to have to overcome a very good team on the night.
Papas added the second season under Tony Walmsley will more likely reflect the coach’s vision of the Mariners.
“So I expect a more cohesive side and a side that Tony’s been looking for. He’s done a good job there and we know it’s a difficult tie but one we’re absolutely up for.”
And in goals for Gully, there’ll be another FFA Cup favourite in Rani Dowisha.
One of the South Springvale heroes from 2014, he’s set to be the man to stop the Mariners strikeforce of Roy O’Donovan, Connor Pain and Blake Powell.
“It’s positive to have players who’ve experienced the tournament before and it’s very different in the Cup, the games are very cut-throat. And someone like Rani has that experience with a fairytale story.
“So we’ll be drawing on the experience of the group and my experience to prepare for this game," said Papas.
Gully are currently sixth on the PS4 NPL Victoria ladder. Tonight (Fri) they face ladder leaders Bentleigh Greens, giving the side a good four day turnaround before the big Cup clash.