Hamilton and Charlestown face the same tough schedule if they win their FFA Cup clashes on Saturday, but the Northern NPL sides are taking different approaches to the qualifiers at Speers Point.
Charlestown meet North Coast leaders Boambee at 5.30pm and Olympic take on Edgeworth in the opening match at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility’s synthetic surface at 10am. Adamstown play Broadmeadow at 12.30pm and Lambton Jaffas meet Port United at 3pm. The winners play Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to decide which two clubs represent Northern NSW in the round of 32.
Hamilton and Charlestown’s NPL clash last weekend was washed out and deferred to Wednesday, June 20, meaning they will play five games in two weeks if they progress on Saturday.
Both haven’t featured in the round of 32, where Edgeworth, Broadmeadow, Jaffas and South Cardiff have represented the region. Olympic coach Peter McGuinness said his club – eighth in the NPL, six points behind fourth-placed Charlestown – were keen to join the list.
“It’s important,” McGuinness said. “The FFA Cup can put your club in the national spotlight, which we’ve seen, so we’ll be going in with the best side we can.”
He said Leo Bertos (coaching) and Jarryd Sutherland (knee injury) where the only losses in his squad and he welcomed the extra workload a win would bring.
“I’d be happy if we played midweek every second week,” McGuinness said. “The guys love playing and the more games you can get them the better.
“Some people say you’ve got to rest players. With my group, if I said I’m going to rest them, they’d blow up. And I’m trying to build this group together, so the more games the better.”
Charlestown coach David Tanchevski said marquee signing Ljubo Milicevic and others would be rested from their clash with Boambee. He was concerned about the hectic schedule the Blues potentially faced.
“If we win, we win. If we don’t, we’re not going to lose any sleep over it,” Tanchevski said. “We’re happy that we are there but our goal this year was to rebuild and be competitive. We’re still trying to hang onto a top-four spot and we’ve had a few injuries that have slowed us down. The league is our No.1 goal, the FFA Cup is secondary.”
Edgeworth, second in the NPL to Magic on goal difference, came from behind to beat Hamilton 3-2 in the league, and Eagles coach Damian Zane expected a tougher test on Saturday.
“I said before the draw that Hamilton were possibly the hardest team,” Zane said. “Just because they have a lot of boys who are used to that surface and they have a lot of ball-playing type players.”
Edgeworth are the most successful NNSW club in the FFA Cup, progressing to the round of 32 three times and becoming the only one to go a game further, where they lost to Western Sydney Wanderers in 2016.
McGuinness was full of respect for the Eagles but said “we give ourselves a chance”.
“When we played them in our competition game, I thought we were a good team between,” he said.
“I thought we did well in that game and I think we’re a better side than then as well. We’ve won five of six games, in the comp and FFA Cup, since then so the form is not too bad.”