One of the ACT’s oldest football clubs, Canberra Olympic, continues to write history by becoming the first NPL club outside of Victoria to play in an FFA Cup semi-final.
Next Wednesday evening the eyes of the Australian football public will turn to the national capital to see Olympic’s longest-serving player, keeper Angelo Konstantinou, lead his teammates onto the Viking Stadium pitch for arguably the biggest match in the club’s history in this, the milestone 60th year of the club. Its opponent will be none other than A-League powerhouse Sydney FC, and at stake will be a place in the FFA Cup final.
“To captain the side that has made the FFA Cup semi-final in the club’s 60th year, a club that I’ve been at for over 20 years, it’s been amazing,” Konstantinou says. “All the boys are ecstatic about getting this far. It’s an amazing achievement.”
Olympic has defeated three interstate NPL teams − Surfers Paradise Apollo, Redlands United and Green Gully − to reach the semi-final without conceding goals to these visiting sides.
The club is expecting its attendance record will be broken, and has opted to play the semi against Sydney at Viking stadium, which can fit up to 8000 people. Konstantinou says the club is expecting a crowd of more than 5,000.
“For any club to make it (to the semi -finals) is financially a big bonus. NPL clubs don’t have a lot of sponsors and it costs a lot of money to run the club.
So financially it’s a huge event for Canberra Olympic,” he says.
Sydney FC will go into the match the overwhelming favourite, but Konstantinou doesn’t appear fazed with the prospect of facing the likes of Holosko, Bobo and Brosque.
He agrees that Olympic are “definitely huge underdogs, but nothing’s impossible in football. It obviously depends who they field. Canberra’s a bit different to play in. They’ve probably never played here before. A bit different weather conditions. We just rock up to the game and take it as it comes”.
He says coach Frank Cachia’s message to the Olympic players has been to “just continue to do what we’ve learnt during the year”.
“They (the Olympic players) are just going to have to be a lot more switched on and more focused on the game. We had to be focused against the other NPL clubs as well, because they weren’t easy beats either. But this is obviously going to be a few levels up, meaning they’re going to have to be really switched on and at the top of their game if we’re going to get anything from this game.”
In the run up to the semi-final, keeper Konstantinou has acquired something of a cult status, with his distinctive tracksuit trousers, a reminder of the capital’s cold weather, and his penalty scoring feats, setting him apart from the more accustomed image of a goal keeper. When asked how he thinks his team will cope with the intense spotlight this coming Wednesday, he replies: “I think they’ll love it. That’s what we play the sport for. Obviously I’m used to it and there are a couple of other boys who are used to it. Some of the other guys have got a taste in some of the FFA Cup games. This is obviously a step above, but this is what we play for.”