15/04/2024

Another intriguing week of Australia Cup is upon us (Image: Western United)

The biggest domestic cup tournament in the country continues with the third week of the Australia Cup Round of 32 taking place this Tuesday.

With another five fixtures taking place this week, The Inner Sanctum takes a look into the sides in action and what to expect from the third week of the Cup!

Newcastle Olympic FC vs Melbourne City FC

Having drawn an A-League Men’s outfit in last season’s round of 32, Newcastle Olympic will be doing it all again when they host Melbourne City on Tuesday night.

Currently sitting third in the Northern NSW NPL competition, Olympic have had an enjoyable past five weeks, winning four of their five past games. Having been in fine form in their domestic competition, Olympic will be hoping it’ll carry over in their cup tie as they look to secure the first giant killing of the cup thus far.

Having scored 10 goals in the league and played a major part in their Australian Cup qualification, City’s defence must be wary of Jared Muller. Teammate Joey Langlois will also be one to watch.

Opponents City will come into the tie as the favourites and will be eager to assert themselves and get their 2022/23 campaign off on the right foot following their grand final loss.

Having kept the core of their squad from last season, the obvious ones to watch will be Socceroos’ Andrew Nabbout, Jamie Maclaren, and Mathew Leckie. New marquee signee Richard van der Venne will also be one to keep an eye out for as he makes his first appearance for his new club.

Having gone last season without any silverware, City will be wanting to have a more fruitful campaign, with the side not wanting to leave with anything but a win.

Giacomo Bruno

Western United v Melbourne Victory

A highly anticipated fixture sees last year’s cup winners and last year’s league winners Melbourne Victory and Western United lock heads at AAMI Park on Wednesday night.

United play their first competitive fixture of the season and has retained the core of their championship-winning squad. The cup provides a great opportunity to add to the club’s trophy cabinet and having defeated Victory 4-1 in their last meeting, United will be out to assert themselves in their upcoming cup tie.

Aleksander Prijovic will be one Victory defenders will need to keep an eye on, having proven to be threatening inside the penalty area. Fans will also get their first glimpse of James Troisi having joined the club during the offseason from the Wanderers.

Melbourne Victory will be wanting to defend their throne, and knock off United with the hiding from their Western-Melbourne rivals extra motivation to come away with the win.

Having shown glimpses of promise in their friendly against Manchester United weeks ago, Victory will be out to build on that with wingers Ben Folami and Chris Ikonomidis ones to watch as will former Portuguese international Nani who signed with much fanfare during the offseason.

Giacomo Bruno

Sydney United 58 v Monaro Panthers FC

The home side welcomes the Monaro Panthers to the Sydney United Sports Centre at Edensor Park for this match.

This has all the hallmarks of an interesting fixture for Sydney United 58, as they have a cup final looming on the weekend in the Waratah Cup, which, barring an unlikely Australia Cup run, will be United’s only chance at silverware this season after a disappointing season in the NPL NSW Men’s competition.

The home side does come into this fixture with a win, having beaten Apia Leichhardt 3-1 at Lambert Park on the final day of the NPL NSW Men’s season.

For the visiting Monaro Panthers, it comes into this one undefeated in its last five games, amassing two wins and three draws.

Sitting third on the NPL ACT ladder, the Panthers are having a good season and with this being their first appearance in the Australia Cup Round of 32, they will have every chance to advance to the Round of 16 against Sydney United.

Steven Poletti

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Davenport City Strikers v Wellington Phoenix

After being unable to travel to Melbourne due to border closures during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to compete against Avondale in the 2021 installation of the Australia Cup Round of 32, the Devonport City Strikers find themselves back in the Round of 32, this time not only competing but hosting.

The Strikers welcome A-League opposition in the form of the Wellington Phoenix. Even though the locals will be behind their side, a side like the Phoenix that is used to long-distance travelling and playing in cold, windy conditions means that any on-field advantage that may have existed for the hosts disappears.

Despite reaching the Semi-Final of the Cup last year, Wellington has been prone to upsets in the competition. Ufuk Talay’s men will be confident heading to Tasmania, but the disappointment of missing out on the competition in 2021 should fire up the hosts.

Look out for Strikers’ marksman Roberto Fernandez Garrido who has proven he does not need an invitation to score, with 16 goals in 12 NPL matches, including three hat tricks. He could cause the Nix a few headaches if provided the opportunity!

Antonis Pagonis

Peninsula Power v NWS Spirit FC

The hosts come into this one having tasted victory in four of its last five games and will need to take full advantage of the home ground advantage it has at A.J. Kelly Park.

With a multitude of different goal scorers this season, the Power has plenty of players capable of putting the ball in the back of the net, and it will require a full team effort to break down the might of the visiting NWS Spirit.

The Spirit has not lost a game in over three months across all competitions, with their last loss on April 23 in the FNSW League One Men’s competition to Northern Tigers FC.

David Perkovic has his side playing some fantastic football, and in addition to being unbeaten, has also led the Spirit to promotion to the NPL NSW Men’s competition.

Unlike the opposition, Spirit will face Sydney United in the Waratah Cup. The Spirit has a shot at league silverware this season, but the Waratah Cup is still a trophy to win.

Will Perkovic and the Spirit have one eye on the weekend’s Cup final, making the job a little easier for Peninsula Power to advance to the Round of 16, or are the Spirit focused on going as far as it can in every competition?

Steven Poletti

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