Sunday, 29 June 2014 - Michael Flynn, Football Queensland
NPL Queensland league leaders Palm Beach Sharks are confident they can convert their league form into a golden cup run in their first Westfield FFA Cup tie against Sydney City Hakoah in the New South Wales capital.
Sharks head coach Grae Piddick’s side are unbeaten in all 12 of their National Premier Leagues (NPL) fixtures this season, and the 33-year old up-and-coming coach sees no reason why that can’t be extended in the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup.
“We’re going there to win the game, that’s for sure. We haven’t lost this year and we want to continue that run and go as far as we can in this competition,” Piddick said.
The Sharks’ success this season has been built on a league-best defence that has recorded eight clean sheets and conceded only eight goals.
Piddick believes his back four, led by former Hyundai A-League defender Kristian Rees, can continue to provide the defensive steel crucial to cup success.
“In cup games, where everything is on the line, knowing that you’ve got a solid defence and that you’re not going to give away cheap goals is vitally important.”
“Our success this year has been built on that core spine playing nearly every week and making sure that we are very hard to beat,” he added.
Piddick also said that while the cup will allow his talented squad to shine on the national stage, opportunities also exist for young coaches such as himself to make their mark as well.
“Players and coaches alike all have ambition and want to get to as high a level as possible,” he explained.
“I’m a young coach – one of the youngest in the competition I’d imagine – so yes I’ve got ambitions to go higher but it’s also a good platform for those young players to really show they are capable of going to the next level.”
The Sharks’ opponents in the Round of 32 currently sit top of the New South Wales State League 1 in the fourth tier of the Australian football pyramid, immediately below Football New South Wales’ two NPL men’s divisions.
The club was a foundation member of the former National Soccer League established in 1977 and won their last of four NSL titles in 1983.
“They’re a club with a rich history in Australian football so it will be great to go down there and I’m sure there will be a big crowd as well,” Piddick said.