FFA Cup fever has well and truly hit the nation’s capital as fairytale outfit Canberra Olympic look to produce a Cup miracle against rampant Hyundai A-League club Sydney FC in Wednesday night’s first semi final in Canberra.
The semi-final at what will be a chilly Viking Park is a true ‘David vs Goliath’ battle as the plucky part-timers from the ACT – celebrating their diamond anniversary this year – try to produce a Cup shock and make the final.
It’s a huge task ahead for Frank Cachia’s side.
The Sky Blues possess a powerful, star-studded squad, are hungry for silverware and have blown away all before them in the first two rounds of the Hyundai A-League season.
Back-to-back 4-0 wins over Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners in the last fortnight shows Sydney FC are in-form and ruthless right now.
Not a great time to be meeting Graham Arnold’s troops. The Bling is back in the Harbour City.
But this is Cup football and as we have seen already this year, anything is possible with the prize a place in the final against either Melbourne Victory or Tim Cahill’s Melbourne City.
As Olympic has shown on their march to the last four – with wins over Surfers Paradise Apollo, Redlands United and Green Gully – they know how to grind out results.
They have a playing group high on camaraderie, doggedness and plenty of talent.
The quarter final win over Green Gully was the perfect example of that. Despite being down to 10-men, their rock-solid defence held firm before they made the most of their opportunity down the other end by converting a stoppage-time penalty for a 1-0 win.
Skipper and goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou has proved a hero not only between the sticks but also at the other end, scoring two penalties on Olympic’s path to the last four.
He’ll again be crucial to their chances, along with the likes of Jordan Tsekenis, Robbie Cattanach and Bobolas brothers Tim and Nicholas.
And then there’s massive Wanderers fan Philippe Bernabo-Madrid, who wants revenge on the Sky Blues for their massive Sydney Derby win earlier this month.
What a story it would be if he could score the goal to sink Sydney FC!
The hosts are minus long-term absentees Michael John and Callum Smith, but will enter the match having not conceded a goal in their three home fixtures so far in the competition.
For the Sky Blues, it will be interesting to see if they can carry their sensational Hyundai A-League form into the Cup.
They have been professional and clinical in the competition so far and Arnold will ensure there’s no room for complacency in the nation’s capital.
Skipper Alex Brosque is expected to make his first start of the campaign after scoring off the bench twice in the opening two rounds of the A-League, while Bernie Ibini should get his first game time on his return to the club.
With Filip Holosko, Milos Ninkovic, Bobo, Brandon O’Neill and David Carney also in excellent touch, Sydney is deservedly raging favourites.
Sydney FC are no strangers to Canberra having played pre-season friendlies against Belconnen United and Canberra FC in recent years, but this will be their first competitive visit.
Will their quality be enough to get them over the line or can Olympic throw the form book out the window and produce the biggest win in theirs – and FFA Cup – history?
Football Federation Australia