While there are federations who can count four or five entrants to the FFA Cup Round of 32, there are also those who boast just one or two.
Those states include Western Australia, South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory, and Tasmania.
Of the six sides from these federations who made the Round of 32 just one side, Devonport, has made it to the Round of 32 before. Check out the road to the Round of 32 – and underestimate these six at your own peril.
It’s a debut appearance on the national stage for Armadale, a side from Western Australia which conceded two goals a game in qualifying but proved the old adage that as long as you score more goals than the other team, you’ll win.
There weren’t many big wins, but they were entertaining matches and plenty of goals. Round four was a 3-2 win over second-tier side Rockingham City, while round five was also 3-2 but this time over NPL side Balcatta.
Their only win by a margin higher than one in qualifying was over Dianella White Eagles. Armadale streaked out to a 5-2 win over the second-tier side, which set up a round seven blockbuster clash.
That clash was against WA heavyweights ECU Joondalup, and it was just as exciting as the rest of their qualifying campaign. In the end, Armadale emerged 3-2 winners and progressed to the national stage.
It’s a 10,000km round trip for Armadale, who go to Queensland to Cairns FC. The travel could be a big factor in this one for Armadale, who are sat mid-table in the NPL WA and would love a good cup run.
If you were to ask the Armadale squad about the impact of the travel though, they’d likely spruik the benefits. Captain Billy Quinncroft said the side was ‘buzzing’ to be handed such a big away fixture.
“The boys are buzzing obviously, watched the reaction of the lads, away trip, can’t fault it, we’re looking forward to it,” said Quinncroft, speaking to Football West.
“We’ve just got to make sure the boys don’t get themselves suspended or anything, we’ll be well behaved and be buzzing for it.”
It’s something of a fairy-tale cup run for Gwelup, the second-tier Western Australian side which is in the FFA Cup Round of 32 for the first time after punching above their weight throughout the qualifying campaign and brushing aside three NPL teams to qualify.
The first two rounds were relatively straightforward affairs for Gwelup, who beat third-tier Quinns FC in the third round of qualifying 3-1 and Kwinana United 8-0 in round five.
It’s then that things got really tough – round five against NPL WA highfliers Cockburn City looked like it might have been the end of the line, but Gwelup emerged with a famous 3-1 victory.
Things only got better and better for Gwelup, drawn against another NPL opponent in Subiaco AFC they triumphed 2-1. Round seven didn’t make things easier drawn against Floreat Athena, but Gwelup were just too good in the 4-1 victory.
Top of the league and on fire in the FFA Cup, Gwelup look like they could well be a surprise package on the national stage. They’ve been handed a tough assignment against Adelaide Comets, but they have the home advantage and will fancy themselves to get a result.
Gwelup Croatia coach Taki Nicolaidis was thrilled with his side being in the Round of 32, and was pleased with the draw.
“It’s an NPL side rather than an A-League side, so it’s a good match for us,” said Nicolaidis, speaking to Football West.
“From a playing point of view, from a coaching point of view, from a club point of view, it’s these moments that we want to be part of.”
Another debut on the national stage, this time it’s a side from South Australia who had an incredibly tough qualification run and had to face four fellow NPL SA sides to make the Round of 32.
Round three was a bloodbath for the Comets, drawn against NPL SA cellar dwellers Sturt Lions they cruised to a 5-1 win to progress to the fourth round. NPL opponents once again in West Adelaide, the Comets snuck through with a 1-0 win.
It took penalties to separate Adelaide Comets and Adelaide City in the fifth round, the Comets triumphing 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 deadlock at the end of injury time. That set up a round six clash with second-tier Cumberland United, which Adelaide won 3-2.
It all came down to the final day on round seven, with the Comets against Croydon Kings to play for the only South Australia spot in the Round of 32. Comets emerged victorious once again – 2-1, and onto the national stage for the first time.
Comfortably inside the top six but a long way from top spot, a good showing on the national stage might be just what the Comets need to give their season a boost. They’ll travel to Western Australia and face Gwelup Croatia, in a match which will not be anywhere near as easy as it may look on paper.
They hadn’t even gone as far as the final round of federation qualifying in their previous four tilts at the FFA Cup, but Canberra will be hopeful they can replicate the 2016 semi-final run of ACT rivals Canberra Olympic and go deep into the competition.
They put four past second-tier outfit ANU FC in the third round of qualifying in a 4-2 victory, which set up a massive round five clash with their NPL rivals Canberra Olympic.
A 2-0 win was enough to get the job done against Olympic, before Canberra was drawn against another NPL side in Belconnen United. 3-0 was the scoreline in that one, CFC progressing past round six of qualifying for the first time ever.
Round seven promised to be big for Canberra, and drawn against Gungahlin United it looked like a good game was in store. This proved right – CFC snuck through with a 3-2 win, and their first-ever appearance on the national stage.
It’s been a good year for Canberra FC so far, who are just two points behind first-place Canberra Olympic in the NPL Capital Football but have a game in hand on their opponents. Drawn against NPL NNSW heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic, Canberra will have to be at their best to make a good season even better.
Canberra coach Paul Macor joked his side were unfortunate not to draw an away match in a milder climate.
“Unfortunately we don’t get away to the warmer weather,” said Macor, speaking to Capital Football.
“But it will be great for the fans and football in Canberra to have a home match.
“I need to do a bit of research on our opponent’s tomorrow, look at a bit of video and see what sort of style they play.
“Regardless of what we know of them, we’re looking forward to the challenge of taking them on.”
The only side among these six which has qualified for the FFA Cup Round of 32 in the past, the sole Tasmanian representative beat Lambton Jaffas at this stage two years ago back bowed out in the Round of 16. Can they get there again, or potentially go one better this season?
Entering the qualification stages at the fourth round, Devonport was in seventh heaven with a 7-0 win over second-tier side New Town Eagles.
This set up a round five blockbuster with NPL Tasmania side Olympia FC, which featured seven goals once again. It was far from as one-sided as their previous match though, Devonport edged through with a 4-3 win.
The NPL Tasmania opposition kept on rolling, and Devonport kept on rolling them. A 2-1 win over Northern Rangers put the Strikers into the final round of qualification, where they beat South Hobart 1-0 to go through to the Round of 32 for the second time.
Devonport has been handed a tough assignment in the competition proper, a road trip to Victorian side Northcote City. They’re a side sitting bottom of the league but will not be pushovers for a Strikers side vying for top spot in Tasmania.
Strikers coach Chris Gallo was happy to go into this one flying under the radar.
“We are the underdogs, as I don’t think they will be expecting much from the Tasmanian team, to be honest with you,’’ said Gallo, speaking to The Advocate.
“This will be a great stage for us to perform on and really show what we can do, and we won’t just be representing the Devonport City Strikers, we’ll be representing Tasmania as well.
“They have a lot of former Melbourne City players and I would assume they would have some Melbourne Victory players as well, and they drew against Bentleigh Greens last week (the team which ended the Strikers’ campaign in 2016) so they are in good form in recent times.
“While they are coming second-last, they are in a tough competition, so it is all relative really when you look at it like that.”
It’s a debut appearance for Hellenic on the national stage, who hadn’t been as far as the fifth round of qualifying before this year. The Darwin team is the Northern Territory’s sole representative, but a tricky draw means there won’t be much pressure on to get a good result.
Pitted against their biggest rivals, Darwin Olympic, in the third round of qualifying many expected a close match. It was far from – a 4-0 win for Hellenic securing passage past a tricky opponent and into the next round.
They did away with their NT North opponents University Azzurri 2-0 in the fifth round, before a massive 5-0 win over Palmerston Rovers in the sixth round set up a clash for the final spot in the FFA Cup Round of 32.
Hellenic welcomed the Alice Springs-based Verdi Football Club and sent them home stinging. A 9-0 win, including a hat-trick to 48-year-old Helio Carvalho, secured their maiden Round of 32. In four qualifying games, they didn't concede once.
Sat atop the league, four points clear of second place and nine points of third, Hellenic would have been confident going into the Round of 32 draw. What would have knocked that confidence is who they drew – Hyundai A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers. For the second year running, NT’s sole representative in the Round of 32 has drawn a Hyundai A-League side.