Melbourne Knights coach Andrew Marth says the FFA Cup is a priority in his side and prides the club on its promotion of young players.
Marth has bags of experience playing in the NSL, notably for Knights and coaching in the NPL, as well as playing for Australia.
He believed it was important to breed as well as promote youngsters at NPL level as a pathway into the big time.
“I think youth is what NPL is based on - bringing young kids through, there’s not too many NPL clubs that actually promote young kids,” Marth told FourFourTwo.
“I think we’re the forefront in Australia so we try to our best to bring young kids out.
“Unfortunately we bring them up and they play quite well and get poached by other clubs.”
Making this year's finals is a realistic aim according to the Knights coach after his side finished ninth last year.
The Knights have recorded just one point from the opening two rounds of the season after drawing 2-2 to Hume City away in the first week and subsequently losing 2-1 to Pascoe Vale at home last Friday.
The Knights have brought in former Melbourne City defender Patrick Gerhardt and former Adelaide United and Gold Coast United midfielder Jake Barker-Daish.
Former Knights forward Stipo Andrijasevic almost cracked into Wellington Phoenix’s side last season but is now in a Bentleigh Greens jersey.
Gerhardt, Milan Batur, and Marjan Cvitkovic were unavailable for selection prior to their Pascoe Vale loss but are in contention for this Friday night’s game away to Bentleigh Greens.
“Nikola (Jurkovic) is doing quite well for us, Anthony (Dezic) on the right, Josh (Brekalo) on the left and they just need a bit of guidance in the park,” Marth said.
“Unfortunately we don’t have that in the present moment as Milan’s still injured and Patrick’s two or three weeks away so that’s a huge blow for us.
“If we had our best XI on the park, I’m quite confident we can make finals. It’s a long season, we probably should have won last week against Hume. We had stupidity and we probably gave away three points against Paco. One point from six is disappointing.”
Marth said the upcoming FFA Cup was the main priority this season.
Knights recorded their best result in the tournament last year, reaching the Round of 16 before losing 3-1 to Green Gully at home.
“It's priority (FFA Cup) without a doubt, getting exposure, TV is a cash cow and everyone is gearing up for the cup,” he said.
“That’s why a lot of clubs out there are spending stupid money on players. Wasting their money at times and just want to get as far as they possibly can.”
Much of the dominating headlines in the past 12 months regarded expanding the A-League and implementing a second division to improve Australia’s competition at the top flight.
Stabba was outspoken after his sides 2-1 win over Cockburn City in the 2016 FFA Cup Round of 32.
He slammed Central Coast Mariners after their early exit to NPL VIC side Green Gully and ignited the promotion and relegation debate.
The former Socceroo believed there needed to be a penalty for finishing near the bottom of the table.
“You definitely need promotion and relegation, every other country in the world has it,” he said.
“You can’t go bottom of the league two or three seasons in a row and not get relegated. If you’re going to be promoted into the A-League you need to have facilities.
“There’s not too many clubs I think who are going to struggle with facilities to accommodate 10-15,000.”
Marth said Tasmania was a realistic candidate to be inducted into the A-League.
He added: “Tasmania for example, I think they have to have a team in the A-League. It’s a national competition and it’ll be great.”
Main photo supplied by Knights: Marth prepares to bring on Kym Harris in their 2-1 loss to Pascoe Vale last Friday.