Minnows' incredible chance to make more FFA Cup history
They were once Australian champions and have been winning trophies for the best part of 70 years.
But Moreland Zebras are on the cusp of creating some more FFA Cup history when they take on Brisbane Strikers in the FFA Cup 2019 Quarter Finals.
The Victorian outfit have already put themselves in the record books by becoming the first Member Federation club from the second tier in their state to reach the last eight.
And if they can defeat the Strikers – from Queensland’s NPL – they’ll book a remarkable spot in the last four of Australia’s biggest knockout competition.
For a club that has helped develop the likes of Caltex Socceroos stars Marco Bresciano, Andrew Nabbout and Danny Tiatto, reaching the FFA Cup 2019 Semi Finals will be another proud moment in Zebras history.
The opportunity for Fausto De Amicis’ side to conquer a new frontier in the FFA Cup will ensure there’s plenty of interest in their trip to Brisbane next month.
But the Strikers have also created their own piece of history in 2019, reaching the quarters for the first time in their history.
The Strikers were involved in the first three editions of the FFA Cup and made the Round of 16 in both 2014 and 16.
No club from the Queensland NPL has ever reached the FFA Cup Semi Finals so, either way, history will be made by the winner of this all-NPL clash.
Mariners set for long-awaited return to Cup semis?
Ahead of the start of this year’s FFA Cup competition, Central Coast Mariners boss Alen Stajcic said a long run in the competition was critical to the club’s hopes of moving out of the Hyundai A-League basement this season.
And the side from Gosford have certainly delivered for their coach so far, advancing to the last eight after their nail-biting penalty-shootout win over Brisbane Roar.
"This is giving the players a lot of confidence and belief. We're showing we can beat teams and showing that we've improved a lot on last year,” Stajcic said after the Roar win.
In recent years the FFA Cup has been a source of pain and embarrassment for the Mariners, eliminated in the Round of 32 four years in a row – and twice by NPL opposition.
But they are back into the Quarter Finals for the first time since 2014.
The Mariners are likely to start favourites as well, coming up against Victorian NPL heavyweights Hume City and a win would see the Mariners equal their best-ever showing in this competition.
Of course, Hume themselves love a Cup run, famously reaching the Semi Finals in 2015 before losing to eventual winners Melbourne Victory.
Nick Hegarty’s side – who have been in at least the Round of 32 in five of the six years of the FFA Cup – will fancy their chances, especially on home soil.
Newcastle’s lethal front-four to get their toughest test
A feature of the Jets’ historic run to the last eight has been the building chemistry of the team’s new-look attacking quartet.
Talisman Dimitri Petratos has been joined in the Jets attack by Panamanian international Abdiel Arroyo, Irish whiz Wes Hoolahan and former Wanderer Nick Fitzgerald.
The quartet all scored in Newcastle’s 5-1 win over Edgeworth Eagles in the Round of 16, with some of their combination play sounding a big warning to their rivals ahead of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season.
Ernie Merrick looks to have most bases covered with the wizardry of Hoolahan, speed and finishing of Arroyo, as well as the mobility, work-rate and eye for goal of both Petratos and Fitzgerald.
But they’ll need to be at their best if the Jets are to reach the Semi Finals for the first time.
Merrick’s men are on the road, travelling to Adelaide to play defending FFA Cup winners Adelaide United.
The Reds are the FFA Cup most successful side and difficult to beat on their home turf, which will give us a strong indication of just how good Newcastle’s four-pronged attack really is.
New faces making waves for City and Wanderers
Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers have been two of the most impressive performers so far, with their new recruits making a big impression.
Markus Babbel couldn’t have asked for any more from his fresh faces so far.
Polish playmaker Radi Majewski scored a sensational maiden goal in the win over Sydney United, while Pirmin Schwegler is playing like a man who has years of experience in the Bundesliga.
Throw in the assured performance of keeper Daniel Lopar and the marauding, two-goal effort from wing-back Daniel Georgievski and Wanderers fans have every reason to believe their side can go all the way.
But Melbourne City’s new boys have also looked the good, especially ex-Premier League winger Craig Noone, who has scored in both rounds of the Cup so far.
Uruguayan duo Javier Cabrera and Adrian Luna look like they’ll be a real handful this season, while the presence of Josh Brillante – and FFA Cup winner with Sydney FC in 2017 – adds steel to their midfield.
It might just be whichever sides new recruits shine brightest that could decide which of these two clubs makes it through to the last four.