The first instalment of the FFA Cup Round of 16 begins Tuesday night with four highly anticipated clashes.
The previous round provided a shock in the form of Wellington Phoenix falling to Bentleigh Greens and, with just six A-League sides remaining, the fifth edition of the national knockout competition is beginning to heat up.
APIA Leichardt Tigers v Melbourne Victory
APIA again find themselves in the Round of 16 for the FFA Cup coming up against A-League champions Melbourne Victory. Muscat's men will be without newly acquired marquee Keisuke Honda and German defender Georg Niedermeier with neither player on the plane to Sydney. Victory will not be without their strengths, however, with the likes Kostas Barbarouses and Carl Valeri likely to feature as they did in the Round of 32.
While all eyes will be on Melbourne, the Tigers shouldn’t be counted out after looking impressive in the preliminary rounds of the Cup. Last season’s Victorian NPL champions finished second this season and will be looking for top goal scorer - and new Central Coast Mariners signing - Jordan Murray to motivate a shock win over the reigning A-League champions. Melbourne will be hoping their 1-0 win over Perth last round will be the catalyst for a cup run equalling their 2015 triumph.
Match details: Tuesday, Leichhardt Oval, kick-off 7.30pm (AEST)
Cairns FC v Sydney FC
The draw of the cup always sets up interesting match ups and this one is no different. One of the most successful A-League sides in recent history travel far up north to Barlow Park in what should be an intriguing fixture. Previously known as Far North Queensland Heat, Cairns FC are finally into the last 16 after falling at the round of 32 in the previous four seasons. The Queensland outfit has had a somewhat disappointing 2018 Queensland NPL campaign finishing 8th, however, striker Joshua Taylor has notched an impressive 20 goals, and scored in their 4-0 round of 32 FFA Cup demolition of Armadale.
Meanwhile the reigning Cup holders will be looking to defend their crown and prove that there is life after Graham Arnold. The Sky Blues had a somewhat mixed performance against Rockdale City Suns last round before managing a 4-2 win but will be confident their 2000km trip north will see them progress to the quarter-finals. While newly signed striker Adam le Fondre will be available for Sydney, he is unlikely to feature and instead the boys from Moore Park will be looking again to veteran Alex Brosque to provide the goals.
Match details: Tuesday, Barlow Park, kick-off 7.30pm (AEST)