Round of 32 Australia Cup actions kicks off this weekend. (Image: Australia Cup/Twitter)

The Australia Cup Round of 32 is upon us! We take a lens to the first four encounters, who each club's key players are, and who advances onwards.

The stage is finally set for the biggest domestic cup tournament in the country, with the Australia Cup Round of 32 set to kick off this Wednesday.

With four games taking place this week, The Inner Sanctum takes a look into the sides action and what to expect from the opening week of the Cup!

Bentleigh Greens vs Broadmeadow Magic

Having gone unbeaten in the past seven fixtures, losing just one of 10 games, the Greens have been one of the in form teams of the Victorian NPL. Currently sitting fifth on the table, they are are right in the hunt of claiming their first NPL championship since 2019.

The Greens will be hoping to translate their recent NPL form to the Australia Cup, when they host Broadmeadow Magic at the Kingston Heath Soccer Complex. Having beaten the Magic in a Cup tie 4-0 back in 2018, they’ll will be out to repeat their efforts in this week’s match.

Broadmeadow Magic currently sit third on the Northern NSW NPL table, three points shy of top spot. While they are enjoying a relatively positive season, the Magic have gone through a form slump as of late.

Though their opponents come into the Cup tie with a ton of momentum, the Magic enter out of form, winning just one of their past five games, and losing their last two. Coming up against tough opponents, the Magic will be out to turn their fortunes around advance to the Round of 16 for just the second time in their history.

The Magic will need to be defensively sound, and will be weary of Pierce Waring, who’s proven to be a threat in attack for Bentleigh, as are Ajak Riak and Jack Painter-Andrews.

Giacomo Bruno

Mindil Aces FC vs Avondale FC

Northern Territory outfit Mindil Aces FC will be competing in the Australia Cup for the first time this Thursday, hosting their Round of 32 cup tie at Larrakia Park. On their seventh attempt, the side finally made it out of the preliminary rounds, taking out several fellow NT sides en route to the final rounds.

The Darwin based-outfit currently sit second in the NT Men’s Premier League. Having gone undefeated in their past five fixtures, the side comes into the clash with momentum.

While their opponents may be making the trip up to the Northern Territory for the first time, they are no strangers to the Australia Cup. Avondale FC has progressed to the Round of 32 all but once since 2018.

The Avengers started slow out of the blocks in the Victorian NPL, but have now gotten themselves right back into the title picture sitting in fourth spot, losing just one of their past five fixtures.

Liam Boland and Manyluak Aguek will be the ones to watch, with two proving to be capable goal scorers in the NPL this season. The Avengers will be hoping the duo will also find the goals in their Cup tie on Thursday. 

Giacomo Bruno

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Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC vs Oakleigh Cannons FC

It has not been the best of seasons for the hosts in this one, as Bonnyrigg has only managed five wins throughout the Football NSW League One Men’s season. It was also cruelly eliminated in a Waratah Cup semi-final against Sydney United 58 after taking a 2-0 lead, losing 3-2.

If Bonnyrigg wants to claim a trophy this season, the home side will need to put all of its eggs into the Australia Cup basket, and find a route to victory at the Bonnyrigg Sports Club.

For the visiting Oakleigh Cannons, who sit second on the NPL Victoria ladder with 15 victories this season, winning is contagious. While the side lost to South Melbourne on the weekend, the Cannons won four straight in the league prior to that loss, and they will make the trip to south-west Sydney with a lot of momentum. 

The biggest problem for Oakleigh is it might be without Joe Knowles, who has been on trial with Brisbane Roar and has been doing a lot of travel between Victoria and Queensland in recent weeks. The loss of Knowles will take a lot of goals out of the Oakleigh attack, and leave one less problem for the Bonnyrigg defenders.

Steven Poletti

Armadale SC vs Modbury Jets SC

The Round of 32 of the Australia Cup sees two clubs with strong British backgrounds take on each other. Armadale may be the NPL Club in this encounter, but discount South Australian State League One leaders Modbury Jets at your peril.

Despite being humbled in the SA Federation Cup final by five goals at the hands of Adelaide City, the Jets lead their division by six points and are heavy favourites for promotion, with arguments they are stronger than the current NPL SA cellar dwellers. The Jets will have to be wary of Armadale marksman Angel Andres Rivera if they are to progress.

Despite featuring in the second division of South Australian football, the Jets possess 2021 NPL SA Sergio Melta Medal, Hamish McCabe, who is the clear threat Armadale must aim to neutralise.

Having conceded ten goals in its last two league outings, Armadale should also be wary of Hamish’s twin brother Liam and young star Cooper Wegener. The three have combined to produce a deadly combination, recording 30 of Modbury’s 58 State League One goals in season 2022.

Do not let the gap in divisions fool you; this should be a lot closer than what each side’s league stature suggest, with Modbury more than capable of producing a lower-profile cupset.

Antonis Pagonis

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