The FFA Cup round of 32 will be completed tonight, with a string of fascinating clashes set to take place.
In one of the biggest matches of the night, Melbourne Knights return to the national stage and will host Adelaide United at Knights Stadium. The Knights currently sit in seventh position in NPL Victoria and will look to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to Kingston City on the weekend. United are in the middle of their pre-season and will begin their quest to go back-to-back in the FFA Cup. This may favour the home side, as they have been playing more football in the last few months, and with the support of a strong home crowd, the Knights could come away with a victory on a cold night in Melbourne.
Approximately 20km away, Melbourne Victory will battle Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park. The Victory were decimated by departures in the off-season, however, have made a few strong signings – including former Jets winger Andrew Nabbout. This will be Marco Kurz’s first competitive match in charge of the home side and will give him an idea of where his team is currently at. The Jets will look to bounce back after a disappointing campaign last season and had several players depart, however Panama international Abdiel Arroyo will be one to watch. The two last faced off in this competition in 2016, in a match that the Victory won 3-1. This time it should be a closer contest.
Perry Park in Queensland will play host to the Brisbane Strikers and Wellington Phoenix. The Strikers are in fifth position in NPL Queensland and defeated the Brisbane Roar NPL side 4-1 on the weekend. Like other A-League clubs, Wellington Phoenix are in their pre-season and could be caught off guard. Their squad has been overhauled by new manager Ufuk Talay and it is too difficult to predict exactly how they will go in their first competitive match of the campaign. The Phoenix have struggled in this competition previously and were eliminated by the Bentleigh Greens in last year’s round of 32 match, which would give the Strikers the belief that they can cause an upset.
Reigning A-League Champions Sydney FC will face a new-look Brisbane Roar side at Leichhardt Oval, in what will be Robbie Fowler’s first match in charge of his new club. With 18 players departing the Roar at the end of last season, Fowler will get the opportunity to see his new squad in action. The Sky Blues on the other hand had several players leave the club following their domestic success, however their recruiting has been impressive. Players such as Kosta Barbarouses, Alexander Baumjohann and Luke Brattan will likely get their first competitive hit out, while Ryan McGowan and Patrick Flottmann could also feature. A handful of players should return from illness that was sustained prior to their clash with PSG last week, however this is a different Brisbane team to last year and it is too difficult to predict a winner.
The final match to kick off tonight will see Perth Glory meet the Western Sydney Wanderers at Dorrien Gardens. The Glory will be fired up and determined to make amends for their Grand Final loss last season, with Bruno Fornaroli and Osama Malik just a handful of players that have joined the club. Similarly, the Wanderers recruited well in the off-season, and we could see new players Pirmin Schwegler, Radoslaw Majewski and Daniel Lopar line-up for the away side. The Glory were strong last season and will go into the match as favourites, however the Wanderers impressed in their friendly against Leeds in July. This will certainly be an entertaining clash and with the later kick-off time, it will give Australian football fans an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the match.
The draw for the next round of the competition will take place at the conclusion of all the action tonight – a big night of football in Australia.