We’re just over a week away from the Round of 32 of the FFA Cup with some cracking match-ups to look forward to over the three match days.
While there’s 22 Member Federation clubs ready for their shot on the national stage, what can we expect from the Hyundai A-League sides so early in their pre-season?
Here’s a look at how the 10 Hyundai A-League clubs are shaping up ahead of the start of the Round of 32.
The defending champions will take a new-look squad – and coach into their FFA Cup title defence.
New boss Steve Corica faces a tough challenge with last year’s Mark Viduka medallist and player of the final – Adrian Mierzejewski – golden boot winner Bobo and key defenders Jordy Buijs and Luke Wilkshire no longer with the club.
It should ensure some of the club’s younger talent gets a chance to impress for their clash against Rockdale City Suns on Wednesday, August 1.
The Reds were beaten finalists last year and will fancy their chances of another big Cup run in 2018.
While they have lost some key personnel in Johan Absalonsen, Daniel Adlung and Ersan Gulum, they have picked up some handy replacements.
Michael Jakobsen brings experience at the back, the speed and delivery of Craig Goodwin down the left is huge, while there’s big wraps on new Danish attacker Ken Ilso.
One thing you know about Marco Kurz’s side is they’ll also be supremely fit for that opening clash on Wednesday, August 1 against the Mariners at Marsden Sports Complex.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
We get our first look at Mike Mulvey’s Mariners' revolution in that clash in the City of Churches.
The 2014 Hyundai A-League Championship winning coach with Brisbane Roar is facing a big rebuild in Gosford, not only in terms of personnel but also confidence and club culture after a lean few seasons in terms of results.
There’s nothing like a ‘Cup run’ to start that process off on the right foot!
Mulvey has signed players with a point to prove, so expect the likes of Jack Clisby, Corey Gameiro, Michael McGlinchey and co. to impress against the Reds.
The Jets haven’t had much success when it comes to the FFA Cup but they’ll fancy their chances of going through to the last 16 with a clash against Queensland side Gold Coast Knights on Tuesday, August 7.
After their superb Hyundai A-League campaign in 2017/18 – which was only soured by defeat in the grand final – Ernie Merrick will demand more of the same heading into the new season.
The key for Newcastle could be finding someone to score the goals, with striker Roy O’Donovan suspended, while Andrew Nabbout and ‘Scorpion King’ Riley McGree no longer with the club.
There’s plenty of hype and excitement building in the west heading into the FFA Cup Round of 32.
With a new coach in Tony Popovic and some excellent signings – especially in defence with the likes of Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic and Tomi Mrcela – there’s a feeling this could be Glory’s time to shine.
It will no doubt take time for the new additions to gel, but a high profile friendly against Chelsea will only help their preparations for the hugely-anticipated clash against Melbourne Victory on Tuesday, August 7.
Onto the Victory and it’s been an off-season of change so far for Kevin Muscat’s squad.
Out has gone the Hyundai A-League’s greatest-ever scorer in Besart Berisha, while Rhys Williams, James Donachie and Stefan Nigro’s departures means they have lost some key players at the back.
Corey Brown and Storm Roux have come in and should fill the fullback roles for the Hyundai A-League champions but how will they fare against Perth in a replay of the 2015 final?
While new boss Mark Rudan hasn’t had a lot of time to stamp his authority on the Phoenix since his appointment, he’ll be keen to get off to a winning start.
Wellington travels to Victoria to take on NPL heavyweights and FFA Cup regulars Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday, August 7.
Former Newcastle United EPL defender Steven Taylor has been Rudan’s only major signing so far, with the ex-Sydney FC defender likely to rely on a batch of young local talent for the opening Cup match.
At least he can draw on some good experiences in the Cup before when in charge of NSW NPL side Sydney United.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
The Wanderers are another club which heads into the FFA Cup with not only a host of changes to their roster – but also a new coach.
German great Markus Babbel has been going about his business quietly in Sydney’s west so far but he’ll get an interesting introduction to Australian football in their clash in the Top End against Hellenic AC.
Babbel knows all about success in Cup football, winning the FA Cup during his time at Liverpool, and there’s no better way to endear yourself to the fans than by helping the Wanderers have success in this competition.
While Spanish striker Oriol Riera will be charged with delivering the goals again, what kind of impact can new and exciting young recruits Bruce Kamau, Nick Fitzgerald and Jordan O’Doherty have?
Roar is another Hyundai A-League club that have struggled for success in this competition but have the benefit of a home tie against Melbourne City to look forward to on Tuesday, August 7.
John Aloisi is assembling a strong-looking squad in Brisbane, headlined by striker Adam Taggart from Perth Glory.
Throw in Stefan Mauk in midfield and import Tobias Mikkelsen and there’s a fresh and energetic look to Roar’s squad.
Frenchman Eric Bautheac also looks primed for a big season heading into his second campaign in the Hyundai A-League.
Like their fierce local neighbours, it’s going to be a new-look City heading into the FFA Cup Round of 32.
But you can’t argue that Warren Joyce doesn’t have the quality in his squad to go deep into the competition.
Ex-Rangers attacker Michael O’Halloran will be keen to impress, while youngsters Riley McGree and Lachlan Wales are excitement machines.
The big question on City’s tilt could be what happens with Caltex Socceroos playmaker Daniel Arzani.
If the teenager hangs around with the club for another season, then City will not only be a major threat in the Hyundai A-League but also one of the favourites for the FFA Cup.