Super Tuesday is back! This time we’re set for a monster match-up between two heavyweight Hyundai A-League clubs in country Victoria, cousins face off in Adelaide while more part-time stars are poised to make a name for themselves around Australia.
Sydney United v FNQ Heat
Venue: Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor, Sydney
Sydney United will be hoping to relive the club’s glory days on the national stage when they host FNQ FC Heat.
After winning the NSW NPL 1 title last season, Mark Rudan’s Sydney United have found the going tough this campaign but head into this clash in strong form.
The former NSL powerhouse has lost just once in their last six matches in the NSW top flight, including the weekend’s 0-0 draw with fellow Westfield FFA Cup side Blacktown City.
And they possess a squad with some Hyundai A-League experience.
Mirjan Pavlovic (Wellington Phoenix), Joel Chianese (Sydney FC), Kaz Patafta (Newcastle Jets/Melbourne Victory) and Alec Urosevski (Sydney FC) give United some experience and quality to be feared.
They won’t have it easy though against a Heat side that is also hitting their straps at the right time.
FNQ are unbeaten in their last eight matches and have surged up the Queensland NPL ladder to sit fifth.
Former Phoenix midfielder Alex Smith has been pivotal in their rise, while the acquisition of Zenon Caravella from Newcastle Jets also gives them another threat in what should be a cracking tie with a real State of Origin feel to it.
Blacktown City v Bentleigh Greens
Venue: Lillys Football Centre, Seven Hills, Sydney
This promises to be the closest tie of the night with both sides in similar form in their respective NPL leagues and possessing strong squads.
Blacktown have had a superb domestic season, winning the NSW Waratah Cup Final 6-2 against fellow Westfield FFA Cup side Manly United.
Unfortunately for Mark Crittenden’s men their title hopes evaporated with a 0-0 draw with Sydney United on the weekend meaning they have dropped to third spot.
But in striker Travis Major they have a player with an eye for goal and someone who could prove a real weapon on Tuesday night.
Japanese import Ruyji Miyazawa is one to watch while former Sydney FC winger Mitch Mallia, Kearyn Baccus and Sasa Macura are key players for the NSW side.
Experienced Greens coach John Anastasiadis will ensure his side won’t be overawed by the trip north.
Bentleigh, who drew 2-2 with Heidelberg on the weekend to remain fourth in the Victorian NPL, have been soaking up their run to the national cup competition and have threats all over the park.
The midfield of Liam McCormick, skipper Wayne Wallace and Davide Cardamone are a real strength while striker David Stirton is also in form.
Winger Ryan De Vries provides some blistering pace as well.
Adelaide City v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Venue: Marden Sports Complex, Marden, Adelaide
KO: 7.30pm (local) 8pm AEST
Marden is set to rock as the national gaze will again be on Adelaide City.
The former NSL champions are relishing their chance in the spotlight and won’t be daunted about the task of facing a Hyundai A-League club.
Despite a 1-0 defeat to Campbelltown City on the weekend, City boss Damien Mori will ensure his troops are ready to spring an upset against the Wanderers.
Nic Bucco is Adelaide’s main man while it will be a special clash for youngster Matthew Mullen, who is the cousin of Wanderers defender Daniel.
For the Wanderers, this is the first of a huge couple of weeks for the club with an ACL quarter-final against Guangzhou Evergrande to follow.
But they can’t afford to take their eye off this clash, meaning Wanderers boss Tony Popovic will probably put out his strongest possible line-up.
While defender Matthew Spiranovic is missing through injury, striker Tomi Juric will be buoyed following his goal for the Foxtel A-League All Stars on Sunday night against Juventus.
Can he score again against a team in black and white?
New signings Romeo Castelen and Vitor Saba are also expected to get some game time and will be two players City must stop if they are to topple the A-League giants.
Melbourne City FC V Sydney FC
Venue: Morshead Park, Ballarat, Victoria
This is arguably the tie of the entire opening round with two of the Hyundai A-League heavyweights going head-to-head.
It will be an historic night in Ballarat as City make their make their first competitive outing as a club.
John van ‘t Schip’s side have been impressive so far in the pre-season and recently returned from a 17-day tour of the UK which included a big win over Bolton Wanderers.
In a real treat for Australian fans, new recruit Damien Duff is likely to start against the Sky Blues for his first outing for the club Down Under.
New international marquee Robert Koren is still a chance to line-up for his new side if he proves his fitness, while David Williams could also play after Foxtel A-League All Stars duty.
Sydney have been in good form of their own, warming up for the FFA Cup clash with a 3-2 win over NSW NPL club Bonnyrigg last week.
They are building nicely under new boss Graham Arnold who is keen for the club to go on a lengthy cup run.
Corey Gameiro, who scored a brace against Bonnyrigg, has been in scintillating form in the pre-season and will be a key for Sydney, who will be without marquee man Marc Janko, Shane Smeltz and Alex Brosque.
Bernie Ibini and Ali Abbas will be assessed on Tuesday following their outing against Juventus on Sunday night but Sasa Ognenovski should be right to line-up despite pulling out of the All Stars clash.
Ibini impressed Juventus coach Masimilliano Allegri – will he be the difference in Ballarat? Or can City’s new star Koren kick off his Aussie adventure with some Cup magic?