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FFA Cup Round of 32 preview: Floreat Athena are WA’s best chance for an upset

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Roar Guru
5th August, 2021
8

Western Australia will have representation in the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 fixtures and the club that looks most likely to spring a surprise against A-League opposition is Floreat Athena.

Athena are celebrating 70 years as a club after being formed by Greek migrants in 1951.

They have quite the trophy cabinet, with four championships, eight State Cups and eight Night Series, as well as being runners up on several occasions in all three competitions.

Florena are also one of the only NPL clubs to go through a whole season undefeated on multiple occasions – they did this in 1990 as well as 2007.

The club has been at its current home ground, Litis Stadium, for nearly 35 years. It is a compact venue with grandstands – but the ground is best known for its change rooms entrance.

Litis Stadium holds a secret that is not well known outside of Western Australia – it was formerly a velodrome and the cycling tunnel is still used by players to get to the change rooms.

It is a highlight for many travellers and the Adelaide fans attending will definitely want to get a photo – especially as it’s named after former Florena player and fan-ordained South Australian football icon Stan Lazaridis.

In terms of their 2021 WA NPL season, Athena are in a form slump.

Generic football

(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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They have only picked up two draws and are on a three-game losing streak from their last five matches – this barren run of form has allowed others teams to close the gap and Athena have dropped to second spot, in a competition that have led for the majority of the season.

The current head coach is ex-Athena goalkeeper, Vas Vujacic.

Although Vujacic has only been in the job for a couple of seasons, he has introduced a lot of younger players into the team and is facing the first real test of his coaching abilities – trying to turn around the current wretched run of form Athena are going through.

Athena is a team that shares the goals around – the joint leading scorer is a talented 19-year-old midfielder who is starting to get the attention of A League clubs, Jawad Rezai.

Rezai’s football brain is constantly ticking as he looks to thread a pass, open up space or find himself in goal-scoring positions – for someone so young in a crucial position of the pitch, his football intelligence is that of a much older player.

The other player is classy defender Christopher Salderis. Salderis has been a consistent performer for many years in the NPL and some would say has been unlucky to have not played at a higher level – he will be a threat in both boxes.

Adelaide’s centre backs will also have their hands full dealing with the gangly youngster many are predicting a bright future for – Joshua Anasmo.

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Anasmo leads the line and has so far contributed five goals this term; he has an uncanny ability to get his body into positions that have made local defenders’ lives difficult, especially with arms and legs flailing about.

Nick Ambrogio has spent several years in the NPL and has also chipped in with multiple goals, and up-and-coming 20-year-old forward Robert Harding has proved a revelation, netting four goals so far this season.

Even though Florena are in the midst of a form slump, there is no better time to face FFA Cup serial winners Adelaide United.

United only started pre-season training last week and have struggled so far to replace the several players that have departed this off-season. The defence at time of writing looks to be a real area of concern.

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Florena will no doubt be the underdogs against a much stronger opposition, but they have just as much chance of causing an upset against an A-League club that is having a torrid off-season in terms of signing players.

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