Football fans from all over the country will turn their attention to Lakeside on Wednesday evening as South Melbourne FC and northern NSW NPL club Edgeworth FC take to the field in their Rd of 32 FFA Cup clash.
The match will kick off the national stage of the cup competition and will be broadcast live to a national audience on Foxtel.
For South Melbourne, who have never progressed beyond the Rd of 32 in the competition, it’s a great opportunity to launch a deeper run into a competition which draws great publicity for the NPL clubs involved at this stage of the competition.
While the excitement and attention generated by the competition is welcome, it’s not uncommon for the FFA cup ties to fall into a busy league schedule and South’s is about as busy as it gets. Leading a tight league title race on goal difference, it’s fair to say that the next 12 days could well be season defining for the club from Lakeside.
Within that period, they will play three league matches on both sides of the midweek cup match against Edgeworth, beginning with Saturday evening’s clash away to Hume City, and followed by matches against Pascoe Vale next Saturday and a catch-up match against Avondale FC the following Wednesday.
Fortunately for South Melbourne, the squad, according to coach Chris Taylor is in good shape heading into this busy schedule.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos earlier this week, Taylor said “We’re probably blessed at the moment that everyone’s available so you know that gives us selection problems and allows us to maybe rotate the squad a bit better but we can only rotate certain positions. We don’t have the luxury of having a 20-man squad of having two different teams to play one day and then play three to four days later. We’re fortunate we’ve not got any injuries or suspensions and hopefully we’ll put our best foot forward and get the results we desire.”
So who are South’s FFA Cup opponents this Wednesday evening? Most Victorians probably first became aware of the Edgeworth Eagles when they knocked Bentleigh Greens out en route to last season’s NPL national grand final where they eventually finished as runners-up to Sydney United.
Under young coach Damian Zane, the club has dominated the northern NSW NPL competitions winning back-to-back league titles and premiership doubles in the past two seasons and leading a tight title race this season.
The club has also fared well in the FFA Cup, losing narrowly to Melbourne City at a similar stage in 2015.
Both South’s coach and Eagles coach Damian Zane have travelled interstate to watch each other’s team in action, and gain firsthand knowledge in the lead-up to Wednesday night’s match. Taylor says, “It just goes to show what the FFA Cup means to clubs now. All clubs invest a lot more time into their opposition and take it very very seriously as we’ve done. We’ve looked at some of their games and highlights. We’ve been up to watch them firsthand. They’ve got some players who have played A-League and have been around the traps a little bit. We know that they’re an experienced side – structured very well and they’ve had good results at this level. We know we’re up for a very tough task on the day.”
The Eagles include veteran striker Daniel McBreen who has played A-League football with Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners. A tall, physically strong striker, McBreen gives his team experience, and a physical presence at set pieces. Goal-scoring pair Keigo Moriyasu and Brody Taylor have been prolific scorers for the Eagles last season and this season, while nuggety midfielder Kieran Sanders adds bite in the middle of the park. Another midfielder, Keanu Moore, has recently returned from a spell with the Bentleigh Greens and adds pace and creativity to the line-up. At the back, central defender Josh Evans anchors the best defence in the northern NSW NPL.
South coach Taylor describes the mood around the club ahead of the cup tie as, “a little bit of excitement, a little bit of eager anticipation. But we also want to be respectful to our opposition, and know that they’re going to put on a good performance as well. The one thing we don’t want to be is arrogant in the way we approach it. We know it’s going to be a tough game. We know the opportunity’s there playing at home where we normally perform well, to come up with a good result. That’s what we’re focused on, going about our job in the right manner and ensuring we put up a very good show on the night.”
Kick-off at Lakeside on Wednesday 26 July at 8.00 pm.