Mori and City back on national stage

Damian Mori is back in the limelight. That's what the Westfield FFA Cup does. Remind us of players, clubs and coaches who have contributed, and want to contribute more. Whether it leads to opportunity, we'll have to wait and see.

It says a lot about the pride woven into the fabric of Adelaide City that no one at the club talks about the FFA Cup upset against Western Sydney Wanderers in the same register as winning three national championships, or supplying six players (Milan Ivanovic, Alex Tobin, Robert Zabica, Tony Vidmar, Carl Veart and Aurelio Vidmar) to the Australian team for a World Cup play-off against Argentina  - Diego Maradona et al.

Some will tell you that pride has come at a great cost - withdrawing their team from the final season of the NSL created the momentum for the creation of Adelaide United and the rest, as they say, is history.

Yet if Adelaide City are not what they once were, their standards - in relative terms - remain as high as ever. Mori - the club's all-time leading goalscorer - has been doing his best to uphold those benchmarks during the past decade as first team coach.

He did, after all, learn from the master himself, Zoran Matic - a coach years ahead of his time, one who should have coached the Socceroos but was overlooked because the hierarchy was uncomfortable with his thick Balkan accent. Not one of the game's finest moments, that one.

Matic, famously, once replaced Craig Foster and left his team a man short with 35 minutes remaining against Sydney United because the midfielder refused to follow instructions. ''I think he was testing me,'' recalls Matic. ''Hopefully he learnt something that day.''

Foster certainly discovered the folly of challenging one of the game's most renowned disciplinarians. Matic might have been tough, but he was also scrupulously fair.

Mori observed all this from close quarters, and many of Matic's lessons have been absorbed into his own promising coaching career. In the years since Adelaide City returned to state league football, Mori has guided the team to five South Australian championships, and now has the Zebras into the last 16 of the FFA Cup.

The publicity generated by the win over the Wanderers - one achieved by an astute game plan which exploited a key Western Sydney weakness - may finally create an opportunity for 43-year-old Mori to move up the food chain. He certainly hopes so.

In recent years he's been overlooked by Perth Glory and Adelaide United for coaching roles, and the truth is there's not a lot more he can achieve in the second-tier. Expect, perhaps, to win the FFA Cup. Stranger things have happened.

There's no doubt that Adelaide City's win over the Wanderers gave the competition an enormous lift. The first win by an NPL side over a Hyundai A-League side has proved it can be done. As I write this, two NPL sides from Western Australia - Bayswater City and Stirling Lions - are hoping to follow suit. Chis Coyne has had his Bayswater City side training an extra night for the past two months in preparation for the visit of Melbourne Victory. Kevin Muscat has every reason to be nervous.

Regardless of what happens in Perth, the draw for the quarter-finals will provide more opportunity for the part-timers of the NPL to create history against the full-timers of the A-League. It can also remind us of history. Not that long ago the likes of Brisbane Strikers, Sydney Olympic, Sydney United - along with Adelaide City - were challenging for the title of the best club in the land. The arrival of the Hyundai A-League may have changed the landscape, but the FFA Cup is a timely reminder that they're not done yet. Rejoice.

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