They admit they’ll need a “miracle” to progress but you couldn’t wipe the smile off Darwin Rovers boss Jimmy Culligan’s face after his side drew Sydney FC in the Westfield Cup Round of 32.
In the ultimate David v Goliath battle, the tiny Top End club will host the defending Hyundai A-League champions in one of a number of intriguing first-round ties.
On paper it seems a huge mismatch, especially considering Graham Arnold’s Sky Blues will warm up for the clash with a friendly against EPL giants Arsenal.
“That’s great preparation for them obviously. It’s almost like us playing them.”
ARRIVING IN STYLE
That’s not to say the Rovers boys won’t believe the can do the impossible.
And they like to dream big in the NT and do things in style.
At the same stage of the competition last year they arrived to their round of 32 clash against Brisbane Strikers in a stretch hummer.
“Simon Bell, our captain, owns Darwin Deluxe limousines. He drove us to the match, I’m sure he’ll do it again,” Culligan explained.
He added: “We go into every game to win. Hopefully we can pull off a miracle.
“I think the stadium holds about 6000 people it would be great if we can sell it out with a team like Sydney FC coming up. It will be a fantastic occasion.”
LEARNING FROM 2016
This is the second straight year Rovers have been involved in the last 32.
Unfortunately, they went down 6-0 at home to Brisbane Strikers, with Culligan admitting they didn’t deal with the occasion.
“Hopefully we can draw on [last year] because I went away disappointed last year against Brisbane strikers.
“I felt the occasion and the cameras got to the players, it’s not something they are used to.
“Hopefully they can draw on that experience and go forward, play with confidence and play their usual game.”
CAN THEY PULL OFF THE MIRACLE?
As we saw during the 2016 Westfield FFA Cup, anything can happen.
Defending Hyundai A-League champions Adelaide United were bundled out by Redlands United, while Central Coast Mariners were sunk by Liam Boland and Green Gully.
So how do you stop one of the most dominant teams in Hyundai A-League history?
“Score more goals them I suppose,” Culligan said.
“We have to stick to our usual game plan and just go out and attack them.
“Anything can happen. It’s 11 v 11. Bigger upsets have happened than this. Dreams come true…this is where we want to be so we’re just really looking forward to it now.
“Selecting the 16 will be difficult now. Everyone is going to want to play, training will be packed,” he added.
“We’ll prepare as we usual do and maybe do a bit more homework on certain player and certain aspects but overall just play our normal game and try and beat them like we do any other team.”