Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden says competing in regular games will give the NPL underdogs an advantage over Sydney FC in Wednesday night’s FFA Cup Quarter Final at Edensor Park.
The NSW NPL Grand Final winners will take part in the biggest game in their history when they take on the Sky Blues for a place in the final four of the FFA Cup.
While Sydney FC have played against Wollongong and Perth Glory in the last five weeks, Blacktown have had regular football.
Crittenden believes if the game is close toward the finish, fitness may be a deciding factor on Wednesday night.
“We’ll turn up and we’ll have a crack but it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“One positive is the fact that we are so far into our season. Obviously our boys are in peak fitness now and Sydney still has got a few weeks till they get there. So the important thing for us is to stay in the game as long as we can, and maybe the longer it goes we may find something in the end.
“They are a very good football team that is well coached and all we can do is turn up and do our best and who knows, footy is a funny game at times.”
During Blacktown’s FFA Cup and NPL Grand Final exploits City have shown an abundance of attacking flair but Crittenden believes the team’s defence will be more important.
“Shape wise we’ll try and get ourselves set up to combat whatever Sydney throw at us,” he said. “But it takes a solid defence to not concede. I’m very big on Danny Choi who is in super form and Patrick Antelmi is in great goal scoring form but it takes more than two players to win a game.”
“Football is about the whole team and your structure. Your defence starts from the front third. Patrick and Danny just don’t attack they are a part of our defensive structure as well. Patrick has scored five goals and Danny is doing really well, but what about the defence? What about the goalkeeper, what about the midfield?
While the FFA Cup gives a chance for NPL teams to compete with A-League sides on the field, it’s off the field that teams from the lower tiers of Australian football can benefit as well.
“To have a state league club from Western Sydney playing against a team in the A-League it’s awesome - great for the club,” he said.
“We have been able to attract new sponsors for the club and new supporters by what we’ve been able to achieve by our results.
“So not only is it great for the boys to go in and do a job, it’s great for the club itself. The boys would love to go as far as they can. It would be their goal to hopefully get through to the last four. You don’t just win one game and rest on our laurels. I’m sure their ambition is to go as far as they possibly can.”