Road to the FFA Cup Round of 32: Victorian clubs

There's five Member Federation clubs from Victoria in the FFA Cup Round of 32, but only four had to go through qualifiers this year to make it this far.

Heidelberg United's incredible run to win last year's Australian NPL Finals Series meant they automatically qualified for this year's FFA Cup.

Interestingly, three of the Victorian NPL clubs that are in this year's tournament have reached the semi-finals of the FFA Cup in the past.

Will it be a Victorian club which goes oh so close to the final once again? Check out all five clubs’ road to the Round of 32.

Avondale FC

It’s a Round of 32 debut for Avondale in 2018, who has only gone as close as the sixth round of qualifying in the past.

They faced a mix of opponents of the road to the Round of 32, and conceded just one goal in qualifying.

Avondale was handed a relatively tricky round four clash with NPL Victoria 2 side Werribee City, but cruised through with a 3-0 win.

Things looked trickier with the draw for round five matching them up with fellow NPL Victoria side Bulleen Lions. It turned out to be their biggest win of the qualifying campaign – 5-0.

From there, things got much easier on paper for Avondale and the results seem to back that up. A 4-0 win against fourth-tier North Sunshine Eagles got Avondale through to the seventh round, and a 4-1 win against Richmond SC there got them through.

The Round of 32 is no easy task, with the ‘Avengers’ welcoming NSW heavyweights Marconi Stallions. They’ll be confident though – a good season in the league has them sitting comfortably in third place.

At home to the Stallions, can Avondale progress to the Round of 16 on their first attempt?

Bentleigh Greens

This year marks the fourth year Bentleigh Greens has qualified for the Round of 32, and the third year in a row. They’ve gone as far as the semi-finals before – can they do it again?

Entering the competition at the fourth round of qualifying, Bentleigh quickly dispatched Box Hill United 4-0 to progress.

Wins against St Kilda SC (3-2) and Goulburn Valley Suns (3-1) got the Greens through the fifth and sixth rounds, and set up a round seven clash with fellow NPL Victoria side Kingston City.

It was just as easy a win as the past three, despite their opponents. Four goals to zip got Bentleigh through to the Round of 32.

One of the premier NPL clubs in the country, Bentleigh has been handed a huge challenge in the next round. Hyundai A-League side Wellington Phoenix will travel across the ditch, and new boss Mark Rudan will hope he doesn’t slip up against NPL opposition.

Bentleigh Greens

Heidelberg United

Top of the league and flying high ahead of the Round of 32 draw, Heidelberg looked like a huge challenge for anyone who was unlucky to pull them out of that hat.

On top of the NPL Victoria and looking to make it back-to-back premierships, Heidelberg had the unique privilege of not having to play a single FFA Cup qualifier in 2018.

They cemented their spot in the competition last year, with a historic NPL Finals Series win putting them straight through to the Round of 32 in this year’s FFA Cup.

It was the first time that a Victorian side had won the Finals Series, and in fact the first time an NPL Victoria side had qualified for the final.

It was a final which the Bergers won 2-1 against Brisbane Strikers. Heidelberg beat WA side Bayswater City and NSW club APIA Leichhardt Tigers in their run to the decider.

They, like their four other Victorian representatives in the final stages of the Cup will play at home in the Round of 32. They’ll welcome Charlestown City Blues from NPL Northern NSW, who feature former Caltex Socceroo Ljubo Milicevic.

Heidelberg United
Heidelberg will welcome the 'vibes' in the Round of 32, but can they secure a win?

Northcote City FC

A maiden appearance in the Round of 32 for a side which is struggling to keep its head above water in the NPL Victoria, Northcote City will be out to surprise the competition.

They had a tricky path to qualification, which began with the slightest of 1-0 victories over Mazenod Victory in round four.

Round five posed a huge task – Green Gully, who is remembered best in the FFA Cup for their victory over Central Coast Mariners back in 2016. Northcote stepped up to the plate though, winning 2-0.

Their next match-up was NPL2 battlers Murray United, whom Northcote snuck past with a 1-0 win. Finally, round seven brought them face-to-face with NPL2 highfliers Altona Magic – but Northcote was better, winning 2-0 and progressing.

It’s an interesting proposition for Northcote in the Round of 32. They’ve drawn the only Tasmanian representative in Devonport Strikers, who are contenders for the NPL Tasmania premiership. A big challenge.

Port Melbourne Sharks

A third debutante from Victoria in this year’s Round of 32, Port Melbourne are ticking over nicely in the NPL Victoria without lighting the world on fire. Is the FFA Cup their platform to do just that?

Handed a tough opponent in round four, Pascoe Vale, the Sharks did enough in a 2-1 victory to progress.

Two NPL2 opponents were next, with Port Melbourne dispensing of Sunshine George Cross (3-0) in the fifth round and Whittlesea United (2-0) in the sixth.

This set up a round seven showdown with NPL2 side Moreland Zebras, and what a showdown it was. Seven goals in an extra-time thriller, with the Sharks triumphing 4-3 at the end of 120 minutes.

Drawn against APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC in the Round of 32, Port Melbourne welcomes a huge test to its doorstep. A victory over one of the toughest sides in NSW would be one for the ages.