FFA Cup Round of 16 preview: Blockbuster Sydney Derby, Lions bracing for Reds test

The quarter finalists for the FFA Cup 2018 will be known late on Wednesday night after the last four Round of 16 clashes are completed around the country.

After the excitement and drama of last week’s games, Wednesday’s action promises to be just as thrilling in matches in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

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Western Sydney Wanderers face a tough test in a local derby against NSW NPL side Bonnyrigg White Eagles, while last year’s beaten finalists Adelaide United travel to Lions FC.

There’s an all-Hyundai A-League battle between Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets, while Heidelberg United will look to become the third Victorian NPL side into the last eight when they take on the Adelaide Comets.

Lions FC v Adelaide United

Confidence won’t be an issue for Lions FC, having surged to the Premiership in the Queensland NPL this season.

They finished the regular season with a resounding 4-0 win over Redlands United over the weekend, with star attacker Marek Madle bagging a hat-trick.

But they also possess a stingy defence, having conceded just 11 goals from 26 games in the NPL.

It’s been a stunning rise for the club over the last few years, playing in the third tier as early as 2015 to now be the top club in Queensland.

Lions FC

While they have a semi-final against Moreton Bay United to look forward to this weekend, first they’ll take a crack at causing the next ‘Cupset’ against Marco Kurz’s Reds.

Adelaide made the last 16 courtesy of their 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in the last round, with new recruits Craig Goodwin and Mirko Boland impressing.

Beaten in the FFA Cup final in 2017, the Reds are keen to become the first side to win this competition for a second time (having won the inaugural FFA Cup in 2014) and head to Brisbane fit and firing.

But they don’t have happy memories of playing at Perry Park in this competition, losing to another Queensland NPL side in Redlands United 2-1 after extra-time in 2016.

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Craig Goodwin

Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Western Sydney Wanderers

It’s a Western Sydney derby of epic proportions at Marconi Stadium, with the visit of the Wanderers sure to help Bonnyrigg get over what’s been a tough campaign in the NSW NPL.

The White Eagles finished the season second from bottom of the NPL ladder, managing just six wins all season.

While their last league match was a 5-1 loss to Manly United back on August 12, they have had more than two weeks to prepare and focus on the clash with the Hyundai A-League side.

There’s no doubt their best performance of 2018 came in their Round of 32 win over Hakoah Sydney City East and they’ll need a repeat of that to have any chance of toppling the Wanderers.

Western Sydney needed a stoppage-time winner to get out of jail 4-3 against Hellenic AC in the previous round and coach Markus Babbel won’t tolerate a repeat performance.

The new coach may hand starts to new German recruits - defender Patrick Ziegler and midfielder Alex Baumjohann – in this one.

Spanish striker Oriol Riera, who scored a brace against Hellenic, will be the Wanderers’ dangerman with an excellent record in this competition.

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Adelaide Comets v Heidelberg United

Despite being on the road, Heidelberg will start favourites to progress to the last eight of the FFA Cup for a second straight year.

While the ‘Bergers suffered a surprise 4-1 loss to Kingston City in the Victorian NPL over the weekend, they had already wrapped up the Premiership with two games to spare.

Some of their key players were rested from that clash with one eye on the trip to South Australia.

Heidelberg saw off Charlestown City Blues 2-1 in the Round of 32 and it’s wingers Sean Ellis and Andrew Cartanos who will be their main threats in this one.

The Comets were one of the most impressive performers in the Round of 32, cruising past Gwelup Croatia 4-0 in Perth.

After making the finals in the South Australian NPL, finishing the regular season fourth, they bowed out in the opening week of the finals after a 3-1 loss to Adelaide United.

That clash came back on August 11 meaning they have had more than a fortnight to analyse Heidelberg and focus on their preparation for arguably the biggest match in the club’s history.

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Adelaide Comets

Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets

This clash will hold special significance for City recruit Riley McGree, who goes up against his former club for the first time.

McGree scored one of the best goals in Hyundai A-League history last season while playing for the Jets, his stunning ‘Scorpion Kick’ helping the Hunter club beat City in the semi-finals.

Having gone on loan to City from Club Brugge in Belgium for the 2018/19 Season, the 19-year-old will now look to be a thorn in the Jets’ side at AAMI Park.

While both these clubs are still early in the pre-season, they’ll be targeting success in this competition to keep the competitive games coming, as well as the chance to win some silverware.

Both sides got through their Round of 32 games with 1-0 wins, City needing extra-time to get past Brisbane Roar, while the Jets only just edged past the Gold Coast Knights.

It could be in attack where City has the edge, with Bruno Fornaroli and Michael O’Halloran showing good signs in the pre-season, while Newcastle will be without Joey Champness (injured) and Roy O’Donovan (suspended).

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Riley McGree