Can NPL sides take it to the best in this year’s FFA Cup?

-

As Luke Wilkshire’s Wollongong Wolves book their place in the FFA Cup last 16, the question remaining is just how many sides can topple A-League outfits after lengthy time off.

The COVID-19 sabbatical is over and competitive football is back in NSW once more.

It’s been a long time coming and it was painted on many a face at Popondetta Park last night. Smiles stretched ear to ear as the aromas of a well manned barbeque engulfed all those in attendance in Mount Druitt last night.

A crowd of just over 700 people were treated to an enthralling game of football that could have easily registered a larger scoreline had the opportunities been buried.

Embed from Getty Images

There’s no denying as such, that the enforced break would have taken its toll on the players. Outside of the lockdown, it’s a semi-professional environment at best. The task,  however, became sterner as many of these clubs have had three-and-a-half weeks to prepare.

When you measure that against our A-League sides, who were granted special consideration in lockdown and allowed to train throughout, you have to assume the mountain gets just that bit higher.

The football on Saturday night was played at a high standard. Many in the crowd were surprised with what they saw in large parts although, as the game reached its later stages, the lack of preparation began to show as tired legs crept in earlier than usual and it was Wollongong Wolves head coach Wilkshire, who noted just how hard it had been for his side.

“It’s been very tough. It’s a fantastic piece of history for the club and especially with such a short turnaround after a long time off without football,” he said. 

“We had to work hard on our fitness in what is a semi-professional environment which has a big ask, so for them to do what they did is a great achievement.”

There would be no surprise however that Wilkshire wants his side to go deeper. Every supporter of an NPL side left in the competition will be cheering for that but what’s the realistic expectation moving forward?

Embed from Getty Images

We’ve seen glimpses in the past with the likes of Bentleigh Greens FC reaching the final four in 2018 yet, that was off the back of a full campaign of football. For Wollongong Wolves forward Josh Macdonald, he believes that anything is possible for NPL sides in the competition this year due to the quality of recruitment throughout the remaining squads.

“We have players in our squad that have played at the top,” Macdonald said.

“Lachie (Lachlan Scott) has played at the elite level and there’s boys like myself who have come up through the professional ranks. It’s been tough given everything but I’m confident we can go all the way.

“Many of the NPL clubs have recruited really well and brought in some quality players. The clubs are trying to make a bigger push in this competition which is great.”

Embed from Getty Images

For now, we can only hope that the recruitment and efforts of these clubs rings true and that we bear witness to the much loved ‘cupset.’

It’s certainly an uphill battle at the best of times in this competition, which leaves you thinking how steep a task it must be currently.

Feature Image Credit: Football NSW/Sebastian Giunta

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

mm
Joseph Esposito
A diploma graduated Sports Media student, currently studying Law. Football obsessed, covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the upcoming 2021/22 A-League season.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required