FFA Cup preview: Player-coach meets old club in epic clash
THE FFA Cup continues on Wednesday night with four epic Round of 32 encounters.
With the addition of the 10 A-League clubs to the mix, lower-league underdogs will face domestic heavyweights in some intriguing matchups.
While a number of former A-League stars return with their new sides, the Cup gives younger players the opportunity to make a lasting impression. Fox Sports will bring you all the action live and exclusively.
Here's your preview to the opening night of FFA Cup fixtures.
ROCKDALE CITY SUNS v SYDNEY FC
Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre @ 7:30pm
Paths to R32:
Rockdale - 12-0 v Glebe Wanderers, 3-0 v Bankstown United, 2-1 v Sydney United, 3-2 v Blacktown City.
Sydney FC - N/A
Current league rankings: Rockdale - 5th in NSW NPL. Sydney FC - N/A in A-League.
The Rockdale City Suns host defending FFA Cup winners Sydney FC in what will be gripping Round of 32 encounter in Sydney's south.
The Suns defeated tough opponents Sydney United 58 and Blacktown City on their path to the Round of 32, but now face a tough Sydney FC side with Steve Corica at the helm.
While former Sydney FC players Paul Reid and Trent McClenahan will look to knock off their old employers, it's ex-Western Sydney Wanderers shot stopper Ante Covic who would love to get one over his old rival the most.
Former A-League custodians aside, the Sky Blues will be well aware of Suns striker Alec Urosevski, who has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances this season.
The FFA Cup is always gives the opportunity for younger talent to make an impression, with new Sydney FC signing Daniel De Silva expected to start.
Both sides will be tested differently as favourites Sydney FC are yet to play a competitive game this season, while the Suns already have 20 under their belt.
HEIDELBERG UNITED v CHARLESTOWN
Olympic Park (Village) @ 7:30pm
Paths to R32:
Heidelberg - N/A
Charlestown - 10-0 v Hamilton Azzurri, 3-1 v Lake Maquarie, 6-0 v Boambee, 0-0 (3-2) v Lambton Jaffas.
Current league rankings: Heidelberg - 1st in VIC NPL. Charlestown - 6th in Northern NSW PL.
Heidelberg United are currently sat atop of the NPL Victoria standings, but it's Northern NSW minnows Charlestown who will be hoping to cause an upset against the Victorian giants in this all-NPL FFA Cup clash.
While United are looking to claim consecutive premierships in the south, it's the injury-riddled Blues who have gone on a miserable run of form in the north and have slipped out of the league's top four.
Their form in the Cup says otherwise, however, as they smashed their way through to the Round of 32 after some impressive performances.
The Newcastle-based club will be without former A-League and Socceroos player Ljubo Milicevic, who recently retired from football.
It may be a tough ask for Charlestown as they look to knock-off one of the country's strongest NPL teams in their first ever appearance on the national stage.
CAIRNS v ARMADALE
Barlow Park @ 7:30pm
Paths to R32:
Cairns - 4-3 v Southside Comets, 3-0 v North QLD United, 5-3 v Magpies Crusaders.
Armadale - 3-2 v Balcatta, 5-2 v Dianella White Eagles, 3-2 v ECU Joondalup.
Current league rankings: Cairns - 7th in QLD NPL. Armadale - 7th in WA NPL.
It's the far north of Queensland taking on southern Western Autralia as a whopping distance of over 5000 kilometres separates these two sides.
Although both teams are sat in seventh on their respective league ladders, their form in the Cup shows that they have the capability to score goals.
Armadale's Chris Jackson and Cairns FC's Joshua Taylor both have goals in their locker and will look to lead their sides from the front.
Both teams will be hoping that a positive run in the FFA Cup can make up for their otherwise underwhelming NPL seasons so far.
ADELAIDE UNITED V CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Marden Sports Complex @ 7:30pm
Paths to R32:
Adelaide - N/A
Mariners - N/A
Current league rankings: Adelaide - N/A. Mariners - N/A.
In the first all-A-League clash of the tournament, Adelaide United take on the Central Coast Mariners at the Marden Sports Complex
The South Australians fell agonisingly short in the FFA Cup final last year to Sydney FC and will be looking to bounce back with a point to prove.
Copping a 2-1 defeat to the Sky Blues in extra time wouldn't have felt good and the taste of defeat will be what drives them on throughout this tournament.
The spotlight will be on the Mariners though as they look to improve on their shock Round of 32 exit at the hands Blacktown City FC last season.
Fans will get an up-close first glance at a new-look Mariners side following their raft of off-season departures.
This encounter will be an interesting one, with both sides looking to impress in their first competitive outings of 2018.