It’s back! The Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 gets underway on Wednesday night with six matches to look forward to right around the country.
And it's the Member Federation clubs in focus on the opening night, with 12 in action as they begin their quest for glory on the national stage.
Here’s your complete preview to all six games in what's shaping as another night of Cup drama from Melbourne to Perth, Sydney, Queensland and the nation's capital.
AVONDALE FC v MARCONI STALLIONS
What a cracking match-up we have in store in the broadcast match – live on Fox Sports from 7.30pm AEST – of the opening night.
Surprise packets Avondale, currently third in the Victorian NPL, have surged into the Round of 32 scoring a stack of goals.
Striker Liam Boland is a name well-known in this competition but he’s part of an impressive squad that has the likes of Stefan Zinni, Joey Katebian, Jonatan Germano and Ramazan Tavsancioglu.
They head into the match on the back of a five-day turnaround having played on Friday night in the NPL, a 2-1 win over Pascoe Vale thanks to goals from Elvis Kamsoba and Katebian.
In contrast, Marconi were in action on Sunday in the NSW NPL and have to travel to Melbourne for their return to the national stage.
While they head into the clash on the back of a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Rockdale City, which has hurt their finals hopes, Peter Tsekenis has an experienced squad at his disposal.
Michael Beauchamp, Mateo Poljak and Marc Warren have a stack of Hyundai A-League matches under their belt, while Marko Jesic, Sean Rooney and the speedy James Andrew will provide the threat in attack.
LIONS FC v OLYMPIC FC
Currently first and second on the NPL Queensland ladder with just one point between them, it’s the prospect of a cracking local derby at Lions Stadium.
The two sides have already met twice this season in the league, sharing 1-0 wins, ensuring we’re in for another tight battle on Wednesday night.
Both clubs have advanced to the last 16 of the FFA Cup in the past and would love nothing more than to do it again at the expense of their fierce local rivals.
There’s stacks of talent in both squads with Ben Cahn’s Olympic boasting the likes of Jez Lofthouse, Shane Stefanutto, Alex Smith and Matt Mundy, while Lions FC – coached by Warren Moon – will rely on the likes of Chris Maher, Shaun Carlos and Josh Brindell-South.
“To get a Brisbane derby? This is the magic of the Cup,” Moon said.
“Getting a home game is a big advantage but it would have been a bigger advantage if it was an interstate team we were playing.”
PORT MELBOURNE SHARKS v APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS
The second Victoria v NSW all-Member Federation clash pits an intriguing battle at JL Murphy Reserve.
The Sharks are enjoying an excellent season in the Victorian NPL, currently in fifth spot after a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Oakleigh Cannons on Friday night.
They’ll look to the likes of James Papadimitriou and Sam Smith for their goal threat, while Kamal Ibrahim and Francesco Stella are other players to watch.
APIA is currently the top team in the NSW NPL, despite being held to a 1-1 draw by the Wollongong Wolves over the weekend.
In their second-straight year in the FFA Cup, the Tigers are a dangerous outfit, especially with the likes of Jordan Murray, Tasuku Sekiya and the Symons brothers – Sean and Josh – in excellent form.
BONNYRIGG WHITE EAGLES v HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST
A NSW derby promises plenty of spice and should have a few goals two, with eight scored in the two meetings between these clubs already this season.
While Bonnyrigg are ahead of Hakoah in the league in NSW, it’s been the boys from Sydney’s East which have won both previous meetings, including a 4-2 triumph just last month.
Both teams saw their finals hopes extinguished in the NSW NPL over the weekend, the White Eagles going down 2-1 against Sydney United, while Hakoah was beaten by Blacktown City by the same score.
But Cup football is a different matter altogether and both clubs can now put full focus on this competition as they look to reach the last 16.
Attackers Anthony Frangie and Andre De Jong hold the key for Hakoah to win this one, both having found the net against Bonnyrigg already this season.
But the hosts will fancy their chances of turning the tide against Hakoah, with the likes of Jewook Woo and Shervin Adeli players to watch.
GWELUP CROATIA v ADELAIDE COMETS
This looms as a battle which is difficult to predict between a side from the second tier in WA and the Comets from South Australia’s NPL.
For Gwelup, reaching the Round of 32 is an achievement in itself, having knocked out a couple of Western Australian NPL clubs on their way to this stage of the competition.
And now they are here they won’t want to make it a brief experience, and with a home clash at Dorrien Gardens they’ll have local support on their side.
They also enjoyed a sensation 3-0 win over Ashfield on the weekend, with Isaac Koomson (two) and Benjamin Kovadio getting on the scoresheet.
The Comets will prove a tough hurdle for the hosts, having come through a tough qualifying phase to be South Australia’s sole Member Federation representative.
They are bound for finals football in their NPL competition and showed great character to snatch a 2-2 draw with Adelaide City over the weekend thanks to late strikes from Terence Carter and Christopher Pepe.
And in striker Andreas Wiens, they have a prolific goal-scorer who will relish his chance on the national stage.
CANBERRA FC v BROADMEADOW MAGIC
It’s the newcomers from the ACT up against FFA Cup regulars from Northern NSW at Deakin Stadium, in a content that could go either way.
While Canberra FC lost over the weekend, results elsewhere means they remain at the top of the ladder in the nation’s capital.
And they’ll want to bounce back to form quickly at Deakin Stadium because Broadmeadow is a side in white-hot form after banging in five unanswered goals in their drubbing of Valentine FC over the weekend.
Canberra FC have youngster Jordan Thurtell in goal and he’ll hope to have a quiet night, while at the other end it will be left to the likes of Kofi Danning, Thomas James and Ryan Keir to come up with the magic in the attacking third.
For Broadmeadow, currently in second spot on the Northern NSW ladder, James Virgili and Kale Bradbery are the players the home side will need to shut down.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S ROUND OF 32 MATCHES
- Port Melbourne Sharks v APIA Leichhardt Tigers – JL Murphy Reserve
- Lions FC v Olympic FC – Lions Stadium
- Canberra FC v Broadmeadow Magic – Deakin Stadium
- Avondale FC v Marconi Stallions – ABD Stadium
- Gwelup Croatia v Adelaide Comets – Dorrien Gardens
- Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Hakoah Sydney City East – Bonnyrigg Sports Club