South Melbourne striker Harry Sawyer has described Friday's FFA Cup clash against Melbourne City is "like a grand final" for his club and says they are ready to "give it everything" to turn over the A-League champions.
The NPL Victoria side will host City at Lakeside Stadium this week in the round of 32 encounter.
Sawyer, a former A-League player who has been with South for the past two years, says he and his teammates are relishing the chance to spring an upset.
“This is like a grand final for us,” he said.
“We’ve got one game to give it our all. There could be two different states of mind going into the game [for City] and that’s something we could use.
"I know everyone from our team who goes out onto the pitch is going to put it all into one match, because it’s do or die.
“It’s going to be exciting playing against Melbourne City. You’d say they’re the best team in the country at the moment. They have a ton of firepower up front.
“They’ve got a Socceroos frontline, so it will be an awesome experience for us and definitely one that we’re relishing. In saying that we’re going to go into the game with no fear, as we really have nothing to lose.
“We have no game on the other side of it, so we’re going into this like it’s a grand final. It’s a huge game for the club. South Melbourne is a special club, the biggest club with the biggest history in Australia, so we’re all looking forward to representing the club on the national stage.”
South head into the match with an affected preparation, after the NPL Victoria season was cancelled because of Covid-19.
During lockdown Hellas were training over Zoom, but the former NSL giant's squad has been back in competitive training for the past six weeks.
"It is a little bit awkward with the season being cancelled and us going into lockdown, and then having to play a game a couple of months after our season finishes," Sawyer admitted.
"But everyone’s excited and these are the games that you want to be part of so everyone’s up for it for sure."
Melbourne City are the reigning A-League premiers after winning the double in 2020-2021.
But ex-Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets forward Sawyer says his team is feeling no pressure ahead of Friday.
"We’re going into this game without fear, we’re all really excited for it," he said.
"Personally, I think this is the best game for us and I’ve been licking my lips at having the chance to have a crack at Melbourne City. At the end of the day it’s 11 bodies against 11 bodies, so I give us any chance to win the game and it will be an awesome task to handle.
"It’s going to be one of those games where the people who back the traditional clubs from the NSL-era are going to be supporting South Melbourne. I suppose there could be a little tension with the fact that it’s one of those traditional clubs against a new club, I suppose."
Sawyer hails from the Queensland capital and has spent time in the Roar and Jets systems, as well as playing professionally in the Philippines and in Hong Kong.
The 24-year-old returned to Melbourne when the pandemic hit to complete his university degree.
The striker still has ambitions of returning to the full-time ranks and believes this Cup clash could help put him back in the spotlight.
"I’m keen to show that I can match it with these guys," he said.
"I’m chomping at the bit. Hopefully games like these provide a bit of a stepping stone. Obviously, I want to play at the highest level possible, so this is one of those games where you can show what you can do."