Magic of the Cup alive in South Australia
By Andrew Cussen
Cup football is thriving in Australia after the introduction of the National Premier League (NPL) finals series and the announcement that the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Cup will commence later this year. South Australia especially has benefited from this fresh impetus and this years’ edition of the Coca-Cola Federation Cup has been an enthralling tournament.
One half of the lineup for the final has been decided after defending champions Adelaide City overcame Croydon Kings in the first semi final, winning 3-1 on the night. A brace from Joel Allwright was the difference between the sides as Nicholas Bucco and former Brisbane Roar man Rocky Visconte added goals for City and Kings respectively.
City are coached by club legend Damian Mori, who enjoyed no less than seven different spells with the team as a player. The two-time Johnny Warren medal winner’s side are in sixth position in the South Australian NPL and within striking distance of the top three places.
The Zebras as they are affectionately known have a fantastic track record in knockout competitions, winning three National Soccer League cups, as well as laying claim to an unrivaled 16 Federation Cup triumphs.
The 2011 winners Western Strikers face off against West Adelaide next Wednesday evening in the second semi to determine who will face City in the final. The two teams met in the league on April 26 and West Adelaide defeated Strikers 3-1, with Tommy ‘Disco’ Briscoe helping himself to a brace, including a thunderbolt from 35 yards.
Strikers will be keen to atone for this result and for their up and down league campaign so far. They currently lie in 12th place and have only picked up maximum points twice all season. West Adelaide on the other hand are the league leaders and have tasted defeated just once so far. But, and brace for a cliché – the league table goes out the window in knockout football. It would be West Adelaide’s first appearance in the final since 1999 if they were to progress.
Winning the Federation Cup this year carries extra significance because it qualifies the victor for the 2014 FFA Cup. The FFA Cup is a knockout competition that pits 32 teams (ten from the A-League, 22 from various state leagues) against each other. It’s a tournament that blends old and new, celebrating the great names of the past and present, while also embracing the future.
South Australia will have two representatives in the competition with Adelaide United qualifying automatically as an A-League side, along with the Federation Cup winner. The FFA Cup presents an opportunity for players to impress on a bigger stage, and for fans to see teams play live that they wouldn’t otherwise see.
The second semi final between Western Strikers and West Adelaide will be played on Wednesday May 14th at Adelaide Shores Football Complex at 7pm. The Federation Cup final will be played at Coopers Stadium on Saturday May 31st, with the seniors game kicking off at 3pm.