Their story has captivated fans nationwide – the self-described ‘pub side’ now just one game away from the Westfield FFA Cup quarters. But South Springvale’s Alex Florea feels he may know his team’s fate even before their round of 16 clash with Palm Beach on Tuesday night.“I’m a very superstitious person,” explained the charismatic midfielder.
“I believe in a few things and I have a coin that I flip.
“I flipped it [before their round of 32 tie with South Cardiff Gunners] and it said we’re going to win the game.”
After scoring a equalizer against the Northern NSW outfit, Florea was taken off with concussion. He watched the exciting shootout slightly dazed on the sidelines.
Yet he firmly believed his team would defeat the Gunners. His coin flip revealed South Springvale’s fate.
“I’m watching the shootout I’m on my hands and knees thinking ‘but the coin said we’d win’. So it was in my head already that we’d win,” he said, still breathless with excitement.
Sure enough, it was South Springy keeper Rani Dowisha’s heroics that ensured a famous victory in the shootout. Cue the media blitz.
It gave the yellow and black – who play in the Victorian third tier - a round of 16 match-up with the in-form Sharks at Gold Coast’s fabulous Cbus stadium on Tuesday night.
However, it hasn’t all been happy news. And Florea’s coin flip may also explain this.
Three weeks ago, the club was devastated to have lost a Victorian Docherty Cup final to Melbourne Knights in the last minute of extra time. Florea had an inkling of the loss.
“If I was to tell you I flipped the coin before the Knights clash and I knew we were going to lose… I didn’t want to tell the team,” he revealed. “That’s the truth and ultimately I created my reality.”
However the loss has only added to South Springy’s motivation to continue their national Cup fairytale going.
“It really hurt,” said Dowisha of the Knights loss.
“It won’t derail us though… we’re a tight-knit bunch. We’ve had a good season but at the end of the day we have no silverware to show for it.”
“To have lost in the 119th minute,” added Florea. “Before you had that 50/50 chance in a shootout – and probably we could’ve won it as we’re pretty comfortable in shootouts and they would’ve really felt the pressure of potentially losing to a minnow.”
With that in mind, the self-described ‘pub team’ of the Cup vow it won’t be party time before the game.
They’ll approach it like professionals and hope it takes them through against a very impressive Palm Beach outfit.
Dowisha, a former Victory youth team keeper who was on the Victory bench when they met Olympiakos in Melbourne in 2012 drifted out of professional football when a new contract wasn’t offered.
In South Springvale the 22-year-old glove-man has found a home in every sense – and now a platform to re-launch his professional career.
Likewise Hameed Ali, Luke Burgess as well as Florea, 24, who’s impressed in South Springvale’s run with some key goals and creativity across the midfield, have all done their chances of a pro contract no harm.
Meanwhile, Florea and Dowisha work as junior coaches during the day – Florea runs his own academy and Dowisha coaches young keepers.
“We’re all has-beens…but now this tournament has shone a light on guys like Rani Dowisha who can still make it in the A-League,” added Florea.
“A lot of people were unaware of the potential of this tournament, and now this under-dog side called South Springvale has shone a light on the potential of this tournament for individuals and teams.
“In fact, I think next year teams are going to take the Cup even more seriously than their own tournament. It’s massive.
“We’ll be spoken about in ten years’ time in dressing rooms with teams saying, ‘why can’t we do what South Springvale did?’
“Rani said to me last night, ‘I could really get use to preparing for a game like this every week'. This is what it’s given us; an insight into the potential being a professional.”
Added Florea: “I think this Cup is the best thing Australia has ever done.
“We might not win the Cup but we’ve shown that anyone can get to this level.”