APIA Leichhardt veteran Franco Parisi says most of the boys in his squad could play in the A-League.
APIA stunned reigning A-League champions Melbourne Victory 3-2 at Leichhardt Oval on Tuesday night in the FFA Cup Round of 16.
Victory found themselves two goals down, but made it 2-2 courtesy of a Kenny Athiu brace, however Nathan Millgate won the game for APIA in the 80th minute.
Tasuku Sekiya was the hero for the Tigers with his two goals and Parisi said he was capable of playing A-League.
Parisi was an NSL player with Sydney Olympic and Sydney United and has played for APIA in the NPL for the last 11 years.
“For me it’s nothing personal, it’s about the team I’m playing with now,” Parisi told FourFourTwo.
“It’s about getting these boys to a level where they need to be. I’ve been there and done that, so it’s not about me.
“We definitely weren’t intimidated by Victory and I think there’s a few boys in our group that could easily step up to the A-League.
“For us, the confidence is there and games like Tuesday will help us commit as a leading club in New South Wales and hopefully some of our boys might be in contention for the A-League.
“I could list all of our players. You just need to watch the game on Tuesday and to see we scored two goals.
“Sean Symons dominates on the left-wing, Adrian Ucchino picked up on everything. Davey D’Apuzzo on the right and Corey Biczo before that.
“Every player deserved their place and wouldn’t step out of place if we were to play another A-League team.”
APIA were coming off a loss to Sydney United on penalties in the first week of NPL finals and Parisi said the game helped them cope against Victory.
“Adrenaline gets you through and we got an early goal and we ran with that,” he said.
“We’re disciplined and we always knew we could score goals, but it was a matter of ‘can we hold them out?’ because they’re a super team.
“Most of us worked during the day, but we’ve all got reasonable bosses and we all left early afternoon. Everyone was there by 5.30 ready and committed.
“There’s definitely a gap between NPL and A-League from a professional point of view, but there’s many great footballers from the NPL that could easily adapt and Tuesday shows that.
“We are aware A-League are in pre-season and aren’t at full strength. It takes nothing away from what we’ve achieved, how good our boys can be and how they can step up and play A-League.”
The 35-year-old also praised the APIA fans who attended the game on Tuesday night as Victory’s goals were greeted by a stun silence from the home crowd.
Parisi added: “The crowd was awesome and when they score and there’s no sound, it means we’ve got them on our side.
“It would’ve been amazing to see it at Lambert Park, but we understand why it wasn’t there.”