CUP magic finally arrives in Australia on Tuesday night when the much anticipated national knockout competition kicks off.
Former National Soccer League champions Brisbane Strikers and Newcastle outfit Broadmeadow Magic have the honour of being the competition’s first televised clash, live on Fox Sports 3 HD from 7pm EST.
The round of 32 features a genuine cross section of the Australian football community: A-League clubs, NSL winners, fallen champions, part-timers, amateurs and professionals from leagues across the country.
As A-League clubs trade Suncorp Stadium, Allianz Stadium and AAMI Park for the smell of the sausage sizzle and bobbly surfaces at local grounds across the country, here’s everything you need to know about the return of Australia’s Cup competition, with coverage on the opening night on Fox Sports 3 from 7pm EST, kick-off at 7.30pm.
Fox Sports will bring you exclusive coverage of the Strikers v Magic clash, with cameras stationed at the other three matches to bring you all the key moments.
You can also keep in touch with the action in our live online blog, which will bring you live updates, pictures, videos and social media insight across all four clashes.
WHAT IS IT
For the first time since 1968, there’s a national knockout competition in Australia to supplement the main A-League action, while also linking the disparate branches of the sport across the member states. It’s a link between past and present, elite and amateur, grassroots and professional.
631 semi-professional and amateur clubs began the journey to qualify for the final 32 in various state-based knockout competitions across the country.
The final 32 comprises the 10 A-League clubs, plus 22 outfits from the member federations across various tiers of football from Capital Football in the ACT (one spot), Football NSW (seven spots), Northern NSW Football (two spots), Football Queensland (four spots), Football Federation South Australia (one spot), Football Federation Tasmania (one spot), Football Federation Victoria (four spots) and Football West (two spots).
There are nine former National Soccer League clubs - Adelaide City, Blacktown City, Brisbane Strikers, South Coast Wolves, Sydney Olympic, Sydney United, Hakoah Sydney City, Melbourne Knights and Parramatta FC.
MEET THE MINNOWS
For a taste of the vast gap between the A-League clubs and some of those in the competition, take a look at the draw’s two genuine minnows: South Springvale, from State League 1 South-East in Victoria, and Hakoah Sydney City, from State League 1 in NSW, the third tier of football in those states.
In a lovely irony for the return of knockout football, Hakoah Sydney City was the last club to win a national knockout competition, then the Australian Cup, in 1968.
HOW IT WORKS
There are five matchdays in the round of 32, with four games per night for the next three Tuesdays, with the fixtures concluding on Wednesday 20 August.
Another draw will take place for the round of 16, which kicks off on Tuesday 16 September, and the pots are constructed to ensure at least one non A-League club will make it into the semi-finals.
The competition wraps up with the decider on Tuesday 16 December.
DAVID v GOLIATH
In the round of 32 draw, there are three all A-League games (Melbourne City v Sydney FC, Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory).
But the four A-League semi-finalists from last season will be heading back to grassroots football, travelling to local pitches across the country as the FFA Cup looks for a boilover of the highest order.
It kicks off with Western Sydney Wanderers – which also has the Asian Champions League tie on 20 August to contend with - travelling to Adelaide City on 12 August, with Brisbane Roar heading to Perth to face Stirling Lions on 19 August and Central Coast Mariners drawn to face South Coast Wolves in Wollongong, with Melbourne Victory against Bayswater City in Western Australia on 20 August.
Broadmeadow Magic versus Brisbane Strikers
Venue: Magic Park, Broadmeadow, Newcastle
Broadmeadow sits seventh in the NNSW NPL, but comes into this headline clash off the back of a confidence boosting win over Lake Macquarie City. Strikers, a former NSL club which won the 1997 grand final in front of 40,000 at Lang Park against Sydney United, sits third in the Queensland NPL and travel to Newcastle.
Plumbers, uni students, lanscapers - add a group of part timers together and you get the South Springvale outfit, dreaming of Cup magic when it hosts South Cardiff Gunners from Newcastle. The minnows, whose highest profile player is former Victory player 32-year-old Ricky Diaco - have already knocked out two Victorian NPL clubs on the way to a shock spot in the final 32. The NNSW outfit heads to Melbourne sitting eighth in the NPL NNSW, but like Broadmeadow, head in off a win, 2-1 over Lambton Jaffas.
This should be a really tasty match between two top tier sides from Queensland and Victoria. Olympic sits second on the NPL Queensland table and enter after a 5-1 win over Moreton Bay. Knights, which won the NSL grand final in 1995 and 1996, is currently eighth in Victoria’s top flight.
A NSW NPL derby between two teams, with a rich football history in this country, that know eachother well. Manly, down in 11th spot, qualified via NSW’s Waratah Cup knockout competition, where they lost to Blacktown in the final. Olympic, sixth in the NSW NPL, has former Adelaide United player Evan Kostopoulos on its books. Others to watch include Manly’s former A-League striker Chris Payne and Olympic’s Japanese imports Go Shirai and Taiga Soeda.
Simon Hill and Gary Phillips will call all the action from Magic Park in Broadmeadow, while Mike Cockerill (Manly United v Sydney Olympic), Adam Peacock (South Springvale v South Cardiff) and Nick Meredith (Olympic FC v Melbourne Knights) will be on deck for the key moments from the other three clashes.