An incredible 772 member federation clubs competed for a spot in the FFA Cup Round of 32, and those 772 have now been whittled down to 22.
Ten Hyundai A-League clubs will join them to make up the Round of 32, but it’s those member federation clubs where some of the best stories can be found.
From the rich heritage of one of New South Wales powerhouse to the giant-killing run of one second-tier Western Australia entrant, and a qualifying clean sheet in the Northern Territory.
In the fourth of five dives into narratives surrounding the entrants in the 2018 edition of the FFA Cup, we take a look at this year’s sole Northern Territory representative Hellenic Athletic, their debut on the national stage, the qualifying clean sheets and the near half-century hat-trick.
Hellenic is just the third team to qualify for the Round of 32 from the Northern Territory, and they’ve been handed one of the biggest challenges among the member federation clubs.
They’ll host Hyundai A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers in their first showing on the national stage, not dissimilar to how fellow NT club Darwin Rovers hosted Sydney FC last year.
What Hellenic will be hoping for is a more respectable result.
Sydney trounced Darwin 8-0, in a result which wasn’t entirely unexpected given the David v Goliath nature of the match-up.
One thing Hellenic does have in its favour is a fantastic record in their qualifying run which seen them score 20 goals and concede not a single one.
Of all 22 member federation clubs to qualify, Hellenic was the only one to do it without letting a goal past.
Games against divisional rivals Darwin Olympic (4-0), University Azzurri (2-0) and Palmerston Rovers (5-0) all looked on paper to have the potential to prove tricky.
Attacking prowess and defensive resolve ensured they weren’t so.
That defensive resolve in cup qualifying is a trait which has been replicated in their stunning league form this season.
Hellenic is seven points clear at the top of the Norzone Premier League ladder with a game in hand and has conceded just six goals in ten games.
(NEARLY) HALF-CENTURY HAT-TRICK
While big wins over divisional rivals were the talk heading into their round seven qualifying clash with Southern Conference club Verdi FC from Alice Springs, the result in that one ended up being the talk of the town.
A huge 9-0 result ensured they kept a fourth consecutive qualifying clean sheet, but it was all the more memorable for the hat-trick scored by Helio Carvalho.
The 48-year-old racked up seven goals in cup qualifying to add to his three in the league so far this season.
That type of experience will be invaluable, especially against the strength of their Hyundai A-League opposition.