The FFA Cup Round of 32 is just a few weeks away and there will be five Member Federation clubs from NSW involved in some HUGE match-ups.
Among them is one club who will take on a Hyundai A-League opposition - and defending FFA Cup champions Sydney FC - while two others will face-off among themselves for a spot in the last 16.
No NSW club has ever made the semi-finals of the FFA Cup – could this year be the year?
Check out all five clubs’ road to the Round of 32.
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS
It’s only the second time the Tigers have appeared in the Round of 32, and it despite some good results throughout the qualifying campaign it wasn’t exactly straightforward.
They entered at the fourth round of NSW qualifying and brushed away Fraser Park 9-1, and followed that up with a 4-0 win over Wollongong Olympic in the fifth round.
Their sixth-round opponents St George put up a stiff challenge but APIA again rose to the challenge and won 3-2.
Round seven posed what looked like the toughest challenge yet – Sydney Olympic. Two goals in the final 20 minutes helped secure APIA a 3-0 win, and their second Round of 32 berth.
Currently second in the NSW NPL, APIA is in form and flying high in the league. Their Round of 32 opponents are Port Melbourne Sharks, and an away trip to Victoria beckons.
BONNYRIGG WHITE EAGLES
It’s the first time Bonnyrigg has played in the FFA Cup Round of 32 since 2016, and only the second time in the competition’s short history that the Eagles have made it this far.
They began their campaign with a fairly straightforward win over Woongarrah Wildcats in the fourth round, triumphing 6-1 to book themselves a place in the fifth round.
Northern Tigers was next in line and the Eagles dispatched with them with a 3-1 victory, before an even tighter round six win over St George City FA – 1-0.
It all came down to round seven and NPL NSW 2 opponents Hills United. Two goals were just enough in the 2-1 win, which booked a spot in the Round of 32.
At the wrong end of the NPL NSW ladder, the Cup is a chance for Bonnyrigg to put some pride back into their season and maybe a much-needed boost. It won’t be easy though – a tough home match against Hakoah East Sydney FC beckons.
HAKOAH EAST SYDNEY FC
A third appearance for Hakoah in the round of 32, who have now qualified two years running. Their other appearance came back in 2014 – but can they better last year’s run to the round of 16?
The NPL NSW club entered the competition in the fourth round, with what was a comfortable enough win – 3-1 over Canterbury Bankstown to set up a tough fifth round match against Sutherland Sharks.
Triumph they did over their NPL NSW opponents, with a 2-0 win which locked in a slightly easier round six clash with NPL2 side Mounties Wanderers.
Hakoah dispatched Mounties 2-0 before a 4-0 round seven win over a plucky Tarrawanna Blueys set the NPL NSW side on a course for the round of 32.
A season which has them hovering around the NPL NSW top five could be mightily improved by a cup run. There’s not much separating them and Round of 32 opponents Bonnyrigg White Eagles in the league – Hakoah are on the road in the cup.
One of Australia’s biggest clubs which has produced some of the all-time great Caltex Socceroos, incredibly it’s just Marconi’s second ever appearance at the round of 32 stage. Their first was in 2016.
It was a relatively tough fourth round draw to kick off their cup run, with NPL NSW 2 side Parramatta FC their opponents. A tight 2-1 win over enough to edge through to the next round.
A 4-2 win over Gladesville Ravens in the fifth round was backed up by an even more impressive 4-1 win over SD Raiders FC in the sixth round to set up what seemed a straightforward affair against NPL NSW 2 side GHFA Spirit FC.
It proved anything but – a hard-fought 2-1 win over GHFA booked Marconi a spot in the Round of 32.
They didn’t get past the first stage after qualifying for the Round of 32 back in 2016, and it’s just as tough an assignment this time around. The Stallions will travel to NPL Victoria side Avondale FC to fight it out for a spot in the next round.
ROCKDALE CITY SUNS
They were faced with one of the hardest cup runs of any side in New South Wales, but Rockdale persevered and fought hard in order to secure just their second appearance on the national stage.
A fourth-round match up with Glebe Wanderers resulted in a huge 12-0 win, with young striker Jonothon Grozdanovski scoring five goals in the rout.
A 3-0 win over Bankstown United followed in the fifth round to send them further through, but it is there that things started to get tricky.
Round six pitted Rockdale against Sydney United 58, but the Suns did just enough to claim a huge win over the NPL NSW high fliers to go onto the seventh round.
And things certainly did not get easier there – drawn against Blacktown City, a side which had qualified for the Round of 32 in every iteration of the FFA Cup.
It wasn’t to be five though – Rockdale emerged 3-2 winners.
As if the last two rounds weren’t hard enough, Rockdale was given no reprieve in the Round of 32. Reigning FFA Cup champions Sydney FC are their opponents in what will be a fierce local derby.
Rockdale City Suns player-coach and former Sydney FC man Paul Reid said it would be the ‘biggest upset in FFA Cup history’ if his side beat Sydney.
“It’s a bit of a story. I would never have dreamed of it. I don’t know what the chances of us drawing each other were but I’m sure it was very minimal,” said Reid, speaking to The Leader.
“It’s what the cup is all about. A member federation club against a giant A-League team. It will be a great spectacle for the community.”