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2021 FFA Cup preview: Is Adelaide City primed for an upset?

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Roar Guru
28th July, 2021

In less than a months’ time, the 2021 FFA cup Round of 32 off kicks off including a qualifier between A-League clubs Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, with the winner of that match to travel to South Australia for a potential banana skin of a fixture against Adelaide City.

Besides being one of the oldest clubs in Australia – founded by Italian immigrants 75 years ago – they are one of the most successful.

Three NSL championships, three NSL cups, 17 South Australian championships, 17 Federation Cup wins are incredible achievements for the grand old lady – much like the club in Serie A they were initially named after, Juventus.

They have produced many international team footballers over the decades, a remarkable feat for how small a state South Australia is.

City has always punched well above their weight in comparison to the east coast teams. Due to their lack of finances, the club has relied heavily on investing the time in producing youth and coaches.

Over the last few years, they have not been the force they once were – they were stripped of the 2017 championship for breaches of competition rules and regulations and watched helplessly as Campbelltown City took their place as the best club in South Australia as well as one of the best nationally.

Adelaide City have gone back to their original formula from 75 year ago that brought so much success – young talented players and coaching.

City are currently top of the SA NPL playing an attacking brand of football while being very tight in defence. The turnaround in fortune has been due to Paul Pezos’ philosophy.

Pezos is an ex-A-League and SA NPL player and at 42 years of age is one of the sharpest minds of this generation of Australian coaches – a move to an A-League club gig seems almost certain to happen if Pezos keeps this trajectory going.


Nicholas Bucco is the heartbeat of this team.

Bucco is an old-fashioned Regista (number 10) in that he can link up play and see an opening that wasn’t there. Besides his famed passing ability and chance creation, he has one of the best dead ball deliveries of any non-A-League player in Australia.

Bucco contributes with goals as well, having scored six so far this season – whoever qualifies out of Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory will need to keep City’s talented playmaker shackled.

Aladin Irrabona transferred across from Adelaide United’s youth team in 2020 and has been a thorn in opposition teams’ 18-yard boxes – he is the joint top scorer with six goals this term, which has led to A-League interest in him again.

There are goalscorers throughout this team.


Kur Kur has chipped in with three goals and was selected by the South Sudan national team earlier this season and another attacking youngster, Asad Kasumovic, is starting to show promise with a couple of goals.

19-year-old Jai King-Byrne has been a standout in midfield, contributing three goals, and ex-Adelaide United youth team player Joseph Costa has been his usual consistent self.

Adelaide City will, however, have to play this home match not at their usual stadium but rival Campbelltown City’s Steve Woodcock Sports Centre in Newton due to the clubs’ lighting facilities not being up to standard.

The last A-League club who took Adelaide City lightly were Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup in 2014 – they ended up getting knocked out due to a Thomas Love wonder strike.

Melbourne Victory or Perth Glory will have to be very wary of Adelaide City – the historic black and whites are more than capable of causing an upset.