Sydney United 58 captain Nick Stavroulakis said there is a silver lining to the club missing the finals for the third time in four years.
“It means we can focus solely on our FFA Cup game against Heidelberg,” Stavroulakis told the Champion.
“These games are basically like grand finals. So many things can happen in the 90 minutes so it is an advantage to be able to focus on one game because at the end of the day we are in it to win it, not to just play in it.”
The Reds, who finished their league campaign with a 2-2 draw against rivals Blacktown City FC on Sunday, take on fellow former NSL club Heidelberg United as the headline broadcast match on Wednesday, August 23 at Sydney United Sports Centre.
While United will enjoy a 10-day preparation, Heidelberg still needs a draw in their final round game against FC Bulleen Lions on Sunday to finish first in the NPL in Victoria.
United 58 qualified for the round of 16 after routing FNQ Heat 7-2 in the round of 32 last Wednesday.
It’s the type of football the Edensor Park faithful have become accustomed too in the past 18 months with Yutaro Shin (two) Glen Trifiro, Matt Sim, Chris Payne, Panny Nikas and Anthony Vranic all finding the back of the net. Stavroulakis said despite being initially a “bit upset” about not playing Heidelberg in Melbourne, he was happy to be playing in front of what he described as the “best fans in the league”.
“Our fans are amazing. You can’t beat playing at Edensor Park – our fans are the best in the league, perhaps in Australia,” he said.
“We are expecting nothing less than a really tough game, especially in terms of intensity levels. The VPL teams play a certain brand of football that makes it hard on opposition teams.”
To say 2017 has been a rollar coaster ride for the Reds would be understatement.
Coaching changes and roster movements added pressure to the 2016 premiers season who already were being hunted after winning three of the four trophies last year.
But that will all be forgotten with a win next week which will almost certainly set up a date with an A-League team in the quarter finals.
- United 58 FC v Heidelberg, August 23, Sydney United Sports Centre, 7.30pm.