2018 FFA Cup – Round of 16 – Preview
Cairns FC vs Sydney FC
Tuesday 21 August 2018
Kick off: 7:30pm
After defeating Rockdale 4-2 thanks to a stunning De Silva drive and a strong second half performance, we have drawn Cairns FC in the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup. We turned up to the previous Cup game looking a bit underdone, and that resulted in us being outplayed for most of the opening part of the game. Hopefully, with a couple more preseason games under their belt, our squad will be more up for this one. The team have been in the Gold Coast for most of the last week, so hopefully the warmer weather shouldn’t catch them off guard (it is forecast to be 26 on the day in Cairns).
We had some selection question marks in the previous game and that continues into this game. I would expect that we will get our first look at Jop van der Linden, who will most likely come in to partner Wilkinson. New striker Adam Le Fondre is available for selection, but it is expected that he will not take part in this game because the club will want to ease him into the squad. It is unclear at this point whether Rhyan Grant will be available to make a long-awaited return at right back, though I suspect we will see Retre there again and, if Grant is ready to return, he may just come on as a substitute. I’ve also seen rumours saying that Daniel De Silva is out for this game, meaning that we might see Charles Lokolingoy play up front in a 4-4-2, or see Alex Brosque withdrawn to play as a second striker as he was for most of last season. It will be interesting to see how Buhagiar performs here as well, as he has been in good form in preseason and is probably hungry to stake a first team slot for himself while he is still guaranteed game time.
Cairns FC have hit a bit of a rough patch of form lately. They are sitting mid-table in the NPL Queensland with only two games remaining in the season, but they have picked up only 1 point in the last 5 league games, conceding 18 goals in that time. This includes a 6-0 loss to the Lions, who currently lead the NPL Queensland. As such, it is clear that their defence is a bit leaky. Cairns FC also have to play a game today (Saturday), meaning that they will only have a couple of days’ rest between their games. That said, they still have a potent goalscoring threat in Joshua Taylor, who has scored 20 goals this season, including two hat-tricks in June. He also scored one of the goals Cairns scored to topple Armadale in the previous round of the Cup.
In a really tangential connection to Sydney FC, it turns out Cairns FC’s Bronson Koppen once toured Vietnam with our club, in what I believe was a youth tournament in 2014, but was not offered a contract.
This will be quite a personal game for head coach Steve Corica. He was born in Innisfail, just south of Cairns, and indeed his 17 year old nephew Harris plays for Cairns FC. It seems that ticket sales have been exceeding expectation up there, so the local community is clearly excited to have an A-League team coming to visit.
Ultimately, if we play to the same level we did against Rockdale and don’t have problems with concentration, we should be able to win this one. It may also be another good opportunity to give some players a competitive run-out, including some of the young guns in the squad.
I’m sure people will also be wondering how to watch the game. The club has confirmed on Twitter that you will be able to watch the game on the Fox Sports website, or through the My Football app (the new app launched by Telstra).