The FFA Cup 2021 Round of 16 will begin this weekend with an all-South Australian tie as the A-League’s Adelaide United take on SA NPL’s Adelaide Olympic.
This is the first time in the Cup’s history that two South Australian teams will face off against each other. The Cup’s most successful team, Adelaide United, are heavily favoured to beat their cross-city rivals.
United laboured to a 3-1 victory away last round against plucky WA NPL side Floreat Athena.
Athena had more than enough opportunities to cause the biggest cup upset in 2021, but after a long WA NPL campaign the freshness of United’s substitutes proved to be the game changer in extra time.
All eyes will be once again on a new look, error-prone Adelaide backline.
Athena had a lot of joy targeting United’s centre-backs and attacking down the right side of their defence for the majority of the match. Regardless of the pitch and swirling winds, United’s understrength defence struggled against semi-professional players.
The biggest problem coach Carl Veart will have is trying to get the cohesion and correct players in the back five. Losing two consistent A-League regulars in Jordan Elsey and Ryan Strain and replacing them with signings that aren’t of the same calibre will cost the side dearly in certain matches this season.
United will still be missing star players Stefan Mauk, Craig Goodwin, Joe Gauci and Michael Jakobsen, who are recuperating from major off-season surgeries and injuries.
All four new recruits in George Blackwood, Jacob Tratt, Nick Ansell and Isiais have had another couple of weeks of training after being blocked from initially entering the state in September and all played in last night’s 3-0 victory over the Vipers in a trial match.
The trio of talented 17-year-olds who debuted last round, Bernado, Ethan Alagich and Ari Mollas, also played in that trial match, as did 16-year-old prodigy Johnny Yull and all look to be well on their way in cementing their places in the first team squad for this season.
Adelaide Olympic qualified for the last 16 for the second time in their history, knocking off an emotionally drained WA NPL side ECU Joondalup who were still reeling from their star striker being on life support in hospital.
They finished a disappointing seventh in the SA NPL, but don’t let their league form fool you. There are some talented individuals, as witnessed last round.
Fausto Erba is a name that is very well known in South Australian footballing circles. The Italian import finished as the second top scorer in the SA NPL and is capable of magic like this goal of season contender last round
How has he scored from there?!?! ????
An absolutely outrageous finish from Fausto Erba.
— FFA Cup (@FFACup) September 29, 2021
He will be supported by another import in the well-travelled Greek, Ioannis Simosis.
Michael Cittadini and Jason Konstandopoulos are able to score goals and create chances, as seen by their handiwork in the SA NPL and FFA Cup rounds.
The match will be at the VALO Sports Centre. Although it’s the home ground of Adelaide Olympic, players from Adelaide United won’t be at a disadvantage as the United youth team in the SA NPL also shares this ground.
It is an artificial pitch, which is still quite uncommon in Australia and could potentially cause a problem for players who are not used to this type of surface.
Even though this will be only United’s third game of pre-season, they should comfortably take care of their opponents, whose season finished weeks ago.
The two Adelaide sides will meet on Sunday, with kick-off scheduled for 3pm local time (3:30pm AEST). The match can be viewed on 10Play.