FFA CUP ROUND of 16 – DAY TWO
To say Hume City will be full of confidence heading into their FFA Cup Round of 16 clash with Sydney Olympic would be putting it lightly.
Not only are the boys from Broadmeadows still buzzing after a miraculous 4-3 win over Brisbane Strikers in the Round of 32, Hume are fresh from booting powerhouse Melbourne Knights from the NPL Victoria Final Series when they defeated the former national champs 2-0 on penalties after the 120 minutes ended 2-2.
Hume weren’t given much hope of pulling an upset at Knights Stadium but prevailed thanks to the heroics of keeper Chris Oldfield, who saved all four of the Knights penalties to set up a showdown with Bentleigh Greens for a spot in the season decider.
It was a vastly different story for Olympic who had their league season come to an end over the weekend with a Minor Semi Final loss to Sydney Tigers. Olympic booked their spot in the last 16 with a routine 1-0 win over ACT side Gungahlin United last round but will come up against much sterner opposition this time around against Hume.
Hume have proven already in this comp they have what it takes to do a Bentleigh Greens and be the state league side to go deep in this competition. They possess arguably the best side on paper of the remaining non-A-League sides with former top-flight names such as Theo Markelis (Victory), Jai Ingham, (Roar) and Isyan Erdogan (Adelaide) along with some of the NPLVIC’s premier players such as Oldfield, Daniel Clark and Shane Rexhepi.
Olympic aren’t without their names either with former A-Leaguers Tolgey Ozbey (Newcastle Jets) and Paul Henderson (Fury, Jets, Mariners) as well as highly-rated Japanese duo Go Shirai and Taiga Soeda.
This games gives us two of the better remaining federation clubs up against each other and looks to be the pick of the action from the second batch of games in the Round of 16. These two are evenly matched which is reflected in the odds with Hume narrow favourites at 2.42 over Olympic at 2.92. Home advantage and still on a high from an elimination final win over Knights steers me towards Hume in this one.
Both MetroStars and Oakleigh Cannons may have bombed out of their respective league campaigns but both have a chance to save grace by winning a place in the FFA Cup quarter finals.
After winning the National NPL Finals in 2014 the MetroStars fell off the pace in 2015 finishing a disappointing 7th in the FFSA NPL while Oakleigh suffered a disastrous start to the season to finish just one place above the NPLVIC relegation places.
Both sides will be fresh for this one after failing to land finals appearances, this will be MetroStars first game since August 15 while the Cannons have had just one week off the park.
MetroStars produced one of the shocks of the Round of 32 by defeating NPL NSW champs Blacktown City on the road and have a trio of former Adelaide United players on their books in Liam Wooding, Adam Van Dommele and Fabian Barberio.
Oakleigh endured a rough 2015 after contending with South Melbourne for the 2014 title. A massive mid-season cleanout saw manager Miron Blieberg exit his post and brining in experienced campaigners Kofi Danning (Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar), Sean Rooney (Newcastle Jets), Mirjan Pavlovic (Wellington) and Steve Pantaledis (Victory, Perth Glory). Dean Piemonte has been a star performer in Victoria for a number of years and is one to watch in this one.
MetroStars know what it takes to beat national opposition defeating the likes of South Melbourne, Bayswater City, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Blacktown in the past year. Despite narrowly avoiding relegation in the league, the Cannons still possess an extremely talented squad and are well coached by Arthur Papas. Expect to have too much power for the South Australians.
The evening’s two remaining games sees A-League opposition facing State League opponents with Western Sydney Wanderers heading to the Gold Coast to play Palm Beach while champions Melbourne Victory come up against NSW NPL side Rockdale City Suns.
Palm Beach have proven to be cup specialists after reaching last year’s quarter finals and upsetting South Melbourne last round. Even with the Wanderers shock loss to Adelaide City in the inaugural cup still fresh in the mind of many, it’s hard to see a repeat of that this time around. Palm Beach have a modest squad lead by A-League journeyman Kristian Rees. Despite a real appetite for the comp, they won’t be going any further this time around.
After cruising past lowly Balmain Tigers in the Ro16, Victory face Sydney opposition once again this time against Rockdale. The Suns have a handy squad with Dylan Macalister (Central Coast, Gold Coast, Wellington, and Melbourne Heart), Marko Jesic (Newcastle Jets) and player-coach Paul Reid (Adelaide United, Melbourne Heart, Sydney FC), but is unlikely to trouble Victory at all.
Don’t expect too much from the underdogs with both A-League sides to do it easily.