With the draw completed and the details set, the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 is almost upon us.
At present, the FFA Cup presents the only opportunity for clubs from outside of the Australian top tier to mix it with A-League sides; presenting an intoxicating clash of styles, culture, and histories as the Australian footballing community experiences the magic of the Cup.
In this preview, dailyfootballshow.com looks at the side of Capital Football that will be competing in this year’s Cup.
Formed in 1958 by members of Canberra’s Croatian community, the club initially went by the title of Croatia Soccer Club until new regulations put in place by the ACT Soccer Association in 1960 banned the use of names with ethnic ties.
Cheekily changing their names to Soccer Club HOPE to circumvent the new regulations – the HOPE name alluding to the Croatian Liberation Movement who were known as HOP – the ACT’s representatives in the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 have also gone by the names Croatia Deakin Soccer Club, Canberra Croatia, Canberra Metro and Canberra Deakin in their past before finally settling on the current title of Canberra FC in 2006.
Currently based out of Deakin Stadium in the Canberran suburb of the same name, the club has ties to many footballing luminaries from the ACT region: the likes of Ned and Ivan Zelic, Josip Šimunić, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Ante Milicic all having links to the club.
Despite thoroughly dominating ACT football throughout its history – the club has won 22 Premierships and 17 Championships since entering the top flight of ACT football in 1960 – 2018 will mark Canberra FC’s first trip to the FFA Cup’s Round of 32.
Currently sitting in first place with a game in hand in NPL Capital Football – suffering a 2-1 loss to Tigres FC in their last hitout – Croatia commenced their road to the national stage in the fourth round of ACT preliminary qualifying, forced into extra time by State League side ANU FC in their first contest before eventually winning 4-2.
Comfortable wins over NPL Capital Football foes Canberra Olympic and Belconnen United would follow in round five and six, before a brace by former Brisbane Roar man Kofi Danning and a goal to Mat Grbesa led Canberra to a 3-2 win and progression to the FFA Cup’s national stages against Gungahlin United at Woden Park.
Managed by Paul Macor, who has only lost a single competitive fixture since taking over prior to the 2018 season, Canberra is paced by attacker Thomas James, who leads NPL Capital Football with nine goals on the season and had four more in preliminary qualifying.
Round of 32 Fixture: vs Broadmeadow Magic, Deakin Stadium, 25 July, 7:30