With the remaining PS4 NPL teams in the Westfield FFA Cup quarter-finals all from Victoria, we ask: what is Victoria’s secret to success?
Hume City, Heidelberg United and Oakleigh Cannons are all representing the southern state in upcoming FFA Cup quarter-finals. They are the only three PS4 NPL clubs left in the Westfield FFA Cup, seeing off all states in the lead up to the last eight.And with Hume and Oakleigh meeting each other, and Heidelberg and Melbourne City also facing off, there’s a guarantee of at least two Victorian teams in the semi finals.
Oakleigh Cannons head coach Arthur Papas has a theory about why the state’s NPL is the strongest in the nation.
“I don’t think there’s a particular strength this season alone,” he told www.theffacup.com.au
“Having been in the Victorian leagues for some time – obviously I was away in the I-League and IPL for three years but returned this year – my opinion has always been that the Victorian league is the strongest league outside of the A-League.
“Not only because of the amount of players that progress to the A-League from this league but because of the depth of the talent in the league.
“What you’ll find is that a club like Oakleigh – a strong club – even we struggled in the league this year but can go on a run like this in the FFA Cup.
“That shows you the depth of the league. That’s the critical factor – the depth of the Victorian league.
“I’m sure most leagues across the country the top four or five teams are quite strong, but beyond that group, it tapers off.
“So it’s about the depth of a league and how competitive it is. That is Victoria’s strong point.
“And that’s why we [Oakleigh] had confidence going to South Australia in the Round of 16 against MetroStars.
“Clubs like Hume and Heidelberg have shown it, when they’ve come up against teams from Sydney or whichever state they’re from, they handled that challenge quite well,” added Papas.
What’s more, with Heidelberg pulling off the short-term signing of Greek international Kostas Katsouranis - and reigning Hyundai A-League champions Victory meeting Adelaide United in a grudge match quarter-final - Victoria is the place to be for FFA Cup action.
And with NPL elimination finals this weekend give the powerful South Melbourne a chance to fly the flag for Victoria in that competition, too.
If South go on and win the national NPL final, they’ll receive FFA Cup entry into the Round of 32 in 2016, potentially adding to Victoria’s FFA Cup dominance next year.
Earlier this year, Hume City striker Jai Ingham ditched the Queensland NPL for Victoria. He had been a Brisbane Roar youth player.
And the 22-year-old striker relishing the move to Victoria ahead of next week’s FFA Cup quarter final with Papas’s Cannons.
“I think it’s the professionalism. Once they hear about Melbourne and the vibe from each club players want to come down here.
“Every club has its own backing and culture, and when players hear about it they want to come down.
“I love it here. Hume has treated me well and they have beautiful facilities.
“And a lot of the players here [in Victoria] get paid very good money. Which helps for the professionalism,” he says.