FFA cup action heads to the Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Thursday night, as Dee Why FC and Balmain Tigers lock horns for a spot in Round 4 of the competition.
The hosts, fresh off an extra-time 4-2 victory at Penrith Rovers in Round 2, ply their trade in the Manly Warringah Football Association Premier League competition.
They take on a State League Men’s side who are no strangers to the magic of the cup, having famously faced A-League club Melbourne Victory in the Cup’s 2015 Round of 32.
However the oldest club on the peninsula, established in 1946, may well fancy their chances against a youthful Tigers side who are in the midst of a rebuilding phase under new boss Sash Tirovski.
Dee Why FC President Stuart Nairn is looking forward to a landmark night at a newly-upgraded Dee Why Park.
“We’re looking forward to the game,” he said.
“We are expecting a good crowd to officially opening our new floodlights. We have invited the Mayor, CEO of Manly Warringah Football Association, and life members of the club.”
The potential to achieve something special in the FFA Cup, as modelled by Thursday’s opponents, is something not evading Nairn.
“Coming from England, where a good season can give you 60 games and potential cup runs in four or five competitions, I personally love it.
“This is our fourth year entering the FFA Cup, and we love the concept.
“They’re a State League side, I think the fact that they’re part of the Football NSW pyramid makes them the favourites, but we won’t be out there to finish second.”
“Thursday night should be a lovely evening, everyone at the club are looking forward to it.”
Ryan Doidge, Dee Why Head Coach and Technical Advisor of their academy, expects a tough outing for his squad, but is confident they will go toe to toe with their fancied opposition:
“We’re expecting a physical, intense game,” he revealed.
“They’ll come here thinking that they will easily walk away going through to the next round, but hopefully we can dig deep like we did last round and come away with an underdog victory.
“We had a great game on Sunday in hot conditions and managed to go through to the next round of the MWFA Cup (with a 4-2 victory over Manly Vale FC).
“The boys are ready to go for Thursday.”
On the other hand, Balmain manager Sash Tirovski is not taking his opposition lightly.
“I saw Dee Why play against Dulwich Hill last year and I thought they were very strong and unlucky not to get something out of that game,” he said.
“You just never know on the day but we are going to give everything to win. We don’t rest or rotate or anything like that.”
There is indeed no temptation to do so for Tirovski, as he looks to re-install a winning culture at a proud club who experienced a tumultuous campaign that resulted in relegation last season.
Round one of the State League 1 saw the Tigers come from behind twice in a 2-2 stalemate with Prospect United – a strong indication of the fighting spirit Tirovski is looking to instil within his squad.
“We’re coming together nicely I guess,” the boss admitted.
“It’s early days, we’re not the finished product at the moment but are working towards where we need to be.
“I was impressed with Round 1 and there’s a few things we can tweak.
“With 18 youth players in the squad, things don’t happen overnight. But I’ve been pleased with their application so far.
“A result (against Dee Why) would be good to get us back into our groove for the league itself. “
Regarding their glamour clash in the competition four years ago, Tirovski would rather focus on the future than the past:
“I am trying to get them (the players) to realise that what we’ve done, we’ve done,” he revealed.
“Since then we’ve had a tough year. There’s no point looking at our time in the sun a few years ago; we need to focus on what’s happening right now and move forward again.”
The match kicks off at 7pm on Thursday night, and Dee Why FC extends its invitation to all local and travelling football fans looking to experience some midweek cup magic.
-By Football NSW Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)