FFA Cup Match Preview: Lions FC v Casuarina FC

A little slice of FFA Cup history will be made on Tuesday night, as Casuarina FC become the first Northern Territory club to play out an away fixture in the Round of 32. 

The 'Rowdies' are heading east to meet Lions FC at Lions Stadium in Brisbane to kick off a second week of Final Rounds action after the competition recommenced last week.  

Having finished third in Football NT Men's Premier League, and preparing for a Semi Final on Saturday 18 September, Casuarina sealed a maiden place on the national stage with a 2-1 win over first-placed Hellenic AC. 

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Mark Casimiro scored on that occasion and is the team's top scorer with nine league goals to his name this season, but he and his teammates will need to be fit and firing if they are to mount an upset of their NPL Queensland opposition. 

The Lions are a vastly successful side with a long and storied history, and currently sit a couple of points outside the league's top four.

With 16 goals in 19 games,Max Mikkola is the man to watch moving forward, having kept his cool to slot home a last-minute penalty which sealed Lions' passage to the Final Rounds.

But they also pose some considerable talent at the back - particularly in Tommy Jarrard, who his teammate Joe Duckworth labels "one of, if not probably the best player in the league." 

Also supported by a familiar face for A-League fans in Jean Carlos Solórzano, the home side will set out to match their best finish in FFA Cup history by qualifying for the Round of 16. 

That achievement last came back in 2018, when a solitary strike from Craig Goodwin saw the Lions fall 1-0 to Adelaide United after knocking off local rivals Olympic FC 3-2 in the Round of 32.

But with a sprinkling of that squad still around and better off for the experience, Darren Sime’s side will be doing all they can to reach that stage again. 

However as Duckworth enforces, the Queenslanders are not underestimating their NT opposition. 

"We saw their qualifying game to get through the Round 32, so we know what they're about," he told theffacup.com.au.

"And we know that they're going to be a difficult opponent, but it's the Cup, so no one really knows what can happen.

"I think as a club we want to win will expect ourselves to perform to win- this one is super exciting, it's going to be great at home in front of a big crowd.

"We worked pretty hard to get here, it takes five games to get to this stage, so when you get there, it's all about enjoying the experience and just giving it a good go."