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 sides from Football West that will be competing in this year’s Cup.
With roots stretching back to 1972, Armadale SC was formed in its current iteration in 1997 thanks to a merger between Armadale Park and Armadale City and play out of the 500 capacity Alfred Skeet Oval in the Southwestern Perth suburb of, funnily enough, Armadale.
The junior side of Socceroos cornerstone Trent Sainsbury, the Reds compete in the top flight of Western Australian football – NPL WA – where they sit in the seventh position on the 14-team table; last week recording a 3-3 draw with ECU Joondalup.
The Reds are currently managed by John O’Reilly, who played for a number of lower league sides in Britain and Island before finishing his playing days with WA sides Morely Windmills and Ashfield SC.
The boss of Armadale since 2016, O’Reilly has previously been in charge of WA sides Swan United and Shamrock Rovers and works at Macron Australia when not taking charge of The Reds.
Armadale began their FFA Cup campaign in round four of preliminary qualifying, defeating State League side Rockingham City 3-2 at the Lark Hill Sportsplex.
Triumph over two more State League sides in Balcatta FC and Dianella White Eagles would then follow, before a 3-2 victory over fellow WA NPL side ECU Joondalup thanks to goals from Nathan Costello, Billy Quinncroft and Chris Jackson sent Armadale to the Round of 32 for the first time.
Round of 32 Fixture: @ Cairns FC, Barlow Park, 1 August, 7:30
One of the fairy-tale stories of the preliminary qualifiers of the 2018 FFA Cup, Gwelup are one of three sides from outside the NPL system to have reached the FFA Cup Round of 32.
Founded in 1988 by members of Perth’s Croatian community, Croatia plays their fixtures out of The Croatian Sporting Complex in the Perth suburb of Gwelup, twelve kilometers North of the city’s CBD.
On the pitch, Croatia features a number of different options going forward in attack, with David Heagney, Benjamin Kouakou and Noah Shemaki all scoring four goals during a preliminary qualification campaign in which Gwelup scored 20 times.
As a State League side, Gwelup started their campaign in round three of preliminary qualifying: defeating Quinns FC 3-1 at the Croatian Sporting Complex to open their campaign.
A comprehensive 8-0 win over “Belt Up Amateur Premier Division” side Kwinana United would then follow, before Gwelup recorded their first of three NPL WA scalps in round five: defeating Cockburn City 3-1 after extra-time.
Another extra-time victory, this time 2-1, would follow against NPL WA side Subiaco FC in round six before Gwelup’s extraordinary run through the Football West qualifying rounds was completed with a 4-1 win over Floreat Athena at the Croatian Sports Complex.
The contest initially looked like it too was headed for extra-time, with the game locked at 1-1 heading into the final 20 minutes, but Gwelup would surge; Kouakou nailing two magnificent free kicks and Heagney adding another from open play to ensure that Gwelup progressed.
— FFA Cup (@FFACup) June 5, 2018
Croatia will be led into the FFA Cup 32 by gaffer Taki Nicolaidis, who, as well as having a long history working with clubs within Football West, works as an accounts manager for Benino Fine Foods.
Round of 32 Fixture: vs Adelaide Comets, Dorrien Gardens, July 25, 8:30