The largest FFA Cup South Australia Preliminary Round in history will culminate on Saturday at Coopers Stadium, as Adelaide Olympic and Adelaide City battle it out for a place on the national stage, where a potential clash with Hyundai A-League opposition awaits.
Adelaide Olympic will return to the hallowed turf at Hindmarsh for the first time since 2004 as they look to secure a first Cup title in their 40-year existence, while the ever-present Adelaide City will look to add to their illustrious winning history in their third Cup Final appearance in five years.
After arguably the most entertaining qualifying rounds in history, the final two teams standing will look back on the road to the final for inspiration and motivation to get themselves across the line.
Adelaide Olympic opened their Cup campaign with a resounding 7-goal to nil thumping of State League 2 side Adelaide Hills at the Hawks nest, which was backed up by a hard-fought 2-3 victory over State League 1 outfit Cumberland United. Olympic then accounted for a second State League 1 side in Adelaide Victory before battling it out with Adelaide Comets in the semi-final to book their place at Hindmarsh.
Adelaide City’s path, on the other hand, included games against two South Australian Amateur Soccer League sides, including an epic semi-final in front of more than 2,500 spectators. First up it was the current National Premier Leagues Champions Campbelltown City. With scores locked at 1-1 after extra time, the lottery of penalties was to decide the outcome and City was the more accurate of the two sides slotting 4 goals to 2 from the spot. City then faced the first of two SAASL opponents, showing their class on the way to a 10-0 thumping of Elizabeth Vale.
A hard-fought 2-1 victory over fellow NPL side Croydon Kings then set up one of the most memorable nights in FFA Cup South Australia History, a showdown with SAASL powerhouse Elizabeth Downs. In front of a hostile crowd, it took a 75th-minute penalty from Marcos Flores to secure a 2-1 victory and the remaining spot in the 2019 Cup Final.
The stage is set for a battle of friends and foes, Olympic and City exchanging numerous coaches and players in recent years. After a lengthy period as an assistant coach working alongside Damian Mori at City, George Tsonis joined Olympic as senior coach at the start of 2018 and has since brought in a number of players who previously serviced the black and whites. The most notable of these being summer signing and former City Captain Matthew Halliday. Speaking to Tsonis earlier this week, he noted the club’s ambitions were clear from day one of 2019. “We sat down at the start of the year and made a promise to ourselves that the club is ready to win silverware”.
First-year coach Michael Matricciani has faced a difficult start to season 2019, stating earlier this week that the challenge has been different to anything he’s ever experienced personally in his 15 years at this level. Looking at the situation in a positive light, however, Matricciani said “The beauty of it is that we’ve had to play 14 finals since round 1. Every single game has been a final for us”.
Adelaide Olympic added to its already impressive playing list in recent weeks, signing 35-cap Albanian international defender Kristi Vangjeli to bolster its backline.
City haven’t failed to impress in the transfer market this week either, bringing in former Adelaide United player Fabio Ferreira who is eligible to take the field of play.
Both sides boast an abundance of attacking threat. For Olympic, Fausto Erba, Ricardo Dasilva, and Christos Pounendis have been able to find the back of the net regularly throughout both the Cup and NPL campaigns.
Meanwhile, Adelaide City will look to multiple NPL Golden Boot Winner Anthony Costa, Marcos Flores, and Nicholas Bucco to spark life into their attack.
The FFA Cup is something that every club aspires to be part of. For one of these clubs, this will become a reality on Saturday afternoon.
Adelaide Olympic v Adelaide City
When: Saturday 22 June 2019
Where: Coopers Stadium, Holden Street Hindmarsh
Tickets: $15 Adult ($10 if you wear your club colours) | 16 and Under FREE
Road to the Cup – Adelaide Olympic
Round 1: Adelaide Hills 0 – 7 Adelaide Olympic
Round 2: Cumberland United 2 – 3 Adelaide Olympic
Quarter Final: Adelaide Victory 0 – 2 Adelaide Olympic
Semi Final: Adelaide Olympic 2 – 1 Adelaide Comets
Road to the Cup – Adelaide City
Round 1: Campbelltown City 1 – 1 Adelaide City (2-4 after penalties)
Round 2: Adelaide City 10 - 0 Elizabeth Vale
Quarter Final: Croydon Kings 1 – 2 Adelaide City
Semi Final: Adelaide City 2 – 1 Elizabeth Downs
LIVE STREAM via FFSA Facebook and YouTube channels from 2.30pm