FNQ FC Heat believes that not only can they defeat high profile Sydney United 58 FC in the Westfield FFA Cup, but that they can progress even further in the national knockout competition.
The Cairns based Heat were pitted against the high profile Sydney club as the 32 FFA Cup qualifiers from across Australia discovered their upcoming opponents in a nationally televised live draw.
Despite the mammoth task ahead of his side, Heat head coach Martin Docherty confidently believes his club's supporters will get their chance to revel in the FFA Cup atmosphere in the next rounds after being drawn away for their first fixture.
“Our goal is not to play in the Final 32, but to get into the Final 16 and the Final Eight. So there’s an opportunity down the line for our local supporters to watch some of these big guns,” Docherty said.
Docherty flew to Brisbane to join his fellow Queensland qualifiers to watch the draw but admitted he didn’t know quite what to expect in the build-up.
“This was a bit like doing the bungy jump for the first time, I didn’t really know what happens when you get down to the bottom,” Docherty said with a laugh.
“But coming here, I now realise how big this is. It’s massive, it’s huge and great for our sport.”
Heat are one of the form teams of NPL Queensland as the league season enters its final third – winning their past six fixtures despite boasting one of the youngest senior squads in the competition.
Docherty said a scattering of experience throughout the side would prove beneficial as Heat look to take their form into the cup – including star player Alex Smith, who previously played in the NSW top tier as well as the A-League.
“The beauty is that I’ve only watched United on the TV and Alex has lived and breathed them,” Docherty explained.
“He’ll be able to say this is what they do – they train four nights a week, they’re going to be so much fitter physically and mentally and I'll be bouncing ideas off him and hopefully getting as much information as I can.”
Docherty further added: “We have to set a programme from this day forward until the day we meet them. That’s how far you have to plan in advance.”
Last year, Sydney United defeated NPL Queensland Champions Olympic FC 4-3 on their way to claiming the end of season NPL Finals Series title.
However, the former National Soccer League club has struggled for consistency this season and currently sit tenth in the NPL New South Wales Mens 1 competition. Notable players that previously called the club home include Socceroos representatives Željko Kalac, Jason Culina, Ned Zelic, Craig Foster and Tony Popovic.