Amateurs and professionals alike will play for the FFA Cup
Giants of Australia’s football past will again strut the national stage with the drawing of the inaugural FFA Cup on Friday.
Qualifying games between more than 600 community clubs have produced just 22 to join 10 A-League clubs in the draw.
The last to take its place among the 32 teams was Melbourne Knights, who beat South Melbourne 2-0 in a battle of former National Soccer League (NSL) giants on Wednesday night.
And what every grassroots team is hoping for is to draw one of the big fish; Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory.
The four clubs have been isolated to play a grassroots club – meaning soon those A-League heavyweights could kick off their season in suburban Sydney, or Hobart, Canberra or Cairns.
It also means the reborn Melbourne City side, shorn of their Heart moniker, will make their first competitive appearance in the Cup, which begins next month.
City could debut their Premier League recruit Damien Duff in that match, though it will come too soon for loan signing David Villa, expected in Australia shortly before the league’s kick-off in October.
Each of the 22 grassroots qualifiers have their stories – sure to be told now on a bigger stage.
From obscurity in NSW’s third tier, the NSL’s first premiers have the chance to walk tall again.
Hakoah Sydney City East – the mouthful previously known as Sydney City – were shock qualifiers last month.
Sydney City and Melbourne Knights are just two of nine former NSL sides in the 22 qualifiers, with 13 NSL titles between them all.
Adelaide City and Sydney Olympic can also hope to make room for the Cup alongside their many national and state titles.
There are minnows as well. Newcastle’s South Cardiff Gunners sit third from bottom in the Northern NSW Premier League.
They have just 342 Facebook followers – but could soon have Melbourne Victory arriving to play in front of a crowd more than 10 times that.
Bayswater City could have Sydney FC’s bling or Western Sydney Wanderers’ poznan crossing the Nullabor.
This is the magic of the FFA Cup – soon to play out in Australia.