Ceccoli: FFA Cup great for South Coast football
Former Sydney FC championship winner Alvin Ceccoli is in action tonight with his Dapto Dandaloo Fury side as the prospect of meeting Hyundai A-League opposition looms in the FFA Cup.
The former Socceroos and A-League defender plays for the Illawarra Premier League club, who take on Auburn FC in the third round of the NSW Waratah Cup tonight (Wed) at Webbs Ave.
The winner earns a mouth-watering clash with NSW NPL club Marconi.
The competition is a stepping stone into the inaugural FFA Cup later this year and given their previous performances in the competition, the South Coast club are certainly a dark-horse to make it.
Dapto made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Waratah Cup in 2012, going down to eventual winners Sutherland.
After some initial reservations about taking part in the competition this season, Ceccoli admits the chance to progress to the FFA Cup was too good to pass up.
"Our club was actually umming and arring about taking part in the Cup this year," he said.
"The opportunity of representing the region is one thing but also advancing into the FFA Cup it changed everyone's mind to really give it a go and see where everyone's at.
"It's a true cup style now.
“It's definitely created a bit of interest and as players you always want to test yourselves, play against better quality and see where you can measure yourself. It's really exciting.
"We're only training a couple of days a week so the only thing that lets us down is our fitness. Technically and skill wise we're really competitive.
"Hopefully it works well for us this year because I think we're a lot fitter than we have been in the past."
Ceccoli, who played with Sydney FC and Central Coast in the A-League, is not the only big name in Dapto's side, with former Central Coast and Newcastle Jets stalwart Noel Spencer also part of the defence.
Their experience could help the side have another strong Cup run and face-off against one of the A-League clubs in July.
"I'm getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of age but it doesn't matter which team it is in the A-League, it would be nice to play against them," the 39-year-old admitted.
"Not to say we'd advance anywhere but as a club and a district where we are down at Wollongong, to get that far and make it to that point would be great for South Coast football.
"It's a good thing that's going on. It's great for football in Australia. It's needed to happen to advance through Asia.
"If we get to that certain point, you'd like to think we'd play a home game I think the whole of the region would come out and support us."
Ceccoli was part of the Sydney FC side that won the inaugural A-League competition and he believes his former club could have a big say in the upcoming finals series.
"It's been an up and down season but they have gained in confidence the last few weeks and got their just rewards," Ceccoli said of the Sky Blues.
"It looks like they have some good momentum now and some confidence which is always nice.
"Finals is about confidence, experience and whatever happens on the day. Form plays a lesser part.
"Those factors go a long way to winning the game on the day and it's something that can work (for Sydney FC)."