The FFA Cup returns tonight and yet again there are some mouth-watering clashes.
ABD Stadium in Melbourne’s northern suburbs plays host to the key match-up tonight, as NPL Victoria side Avondale FC take on reigning FFA Cup winners Sydney FC, a game likely to draw a large crowd.
This match will add to the long list where NPL teams have battled A-League outfits in this competition, having occurred 48 times so far. Judging by this list, this match has what it takes to be a cracker.
The FFA Cup gives the fans and the NPL clubs a chance to match it with the big boys, as Adelaide City did when they defeated A-League Grand Finalists Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 in the very first round of the inaugural FFA Cup in 2014
Later that year in the round of 16, a local derby between NPL powerhouse Sydney United and A-League giants Sydney FC was played in front of a crowd of 8,125 at the Sydney United Sports Centre - the Sky Blues prevailing 3-1.
The fans continued to embrace the FFA Cup in 2015 and the quarter-final brought another local derby. Heidelberg United hosted Melbourne City in front of a strong crowd of 11,372 at Olympic Village, as City were far too strong in a 5-0 rout.
There were two ‘cupsets’ in as many days in the 2016 Round of 32, after NPL Victoria's Green Gully defeated the Central Coast Mariners 2-1, which provided one of the goals of the year by Gully player Liam Boland in second-half injury time. The next day, NPL Queensland side Redlands United beat A-League champions Adelaide United 2-1 in extra time, after Redlands dramatically equalised in the 94th minute.
Heidelberg United was again in the limelight in 2017, beating A-League side Perth Glory 1-0 and showcasing the skills of current Melbourne Victory striker Kenny Athiu.
This year’s FFA Cup has already provided four ripping matches between NPL and A-League sides, with two ‘cupsets’ and two occasions where A-League teams got out of jail. APIA Leichhardt’s incredible 3-2 win over A-League champions Melbourne Victory stood out, showing that the NPL sides should not fear A-League opposition.
Tonight’s clash between Avondale FC and Sydney FC may not result in a ‘cupset’, however it will add further history to this competition.
And who knows? Maybe the ‘magic of the cup’ will be on display once more.