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Don’t mess with the magic of the FFA Cup as Matildas give us hope

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Expert
24th October, 2021
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The Matildas enjoyed all the headlines on what was a positive weekend for the game, but further north there was another reminder of what makes Australian football so unique.

There’s little doubt the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be one of the biggest sporting events either country has ever hosted.

The fact that more than 15,000 spectators turned out in wet weather in Parramatta on the back of Sydney’s lengthy lockdown suggests there’s still plenty of desire to watch live football.

Australia’s 3-1 win over Brazil takes some of the pressure off new coach Tony Gustavsson, who hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since taking charge in September 2020.

The Swede has been on a charm offensive all week, delivering enigmatic press conferences, donning a Matildas scarf at the game and gushing about “the vibe” of his first-ever trip to Australia.

Perhaps the most pleasing element of the win – aside from the three well-worked goals – was the fact the Matildas regrouped after Alanna Kennedy’s slip in her 100th game allowed Adriana to haul Brazil back into the game and halve the deficit at 2-1.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

That Emily van Egmond could come off the bench to side-foot home with ten minutes remaining suggests there’s much to be positive about heading into the second clash with the Brazilians on Tuesday night.

No doubt Football Australia were desperate for some positivity because the abuse allegations levelled by former star Lisa De Vanna simply cannot be allowed to be swept under the carpet.

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We all want the Matildas to do well and the Women’s World Cup to be a huge success – but not at the expense of the safety and well-being of anyone who plays the game.

There was a bit of scrutiny on Queensland NPL side Lions FC in the build-up to their FFA Cup tie with Brisbane Roar on Sunday as well.

With the old Queensland Lions having effectively spawned the A-League side, it was a competitive fixture many football fans in Brisbane had been wanting to see for years.

But when the tie was announced, it was originally scheduled to take place some 30-kilometres west of Richlands at North Ipswich Reserve.

That came as a surprise to many, and a few folks got on Twitter to suggest as much, including myself.

Lions in turn insisted on Twitter the decision had nothing to do with potential ticket sales and everything to do with COVID capacity restrictions, which would have seen them limited to selling a total of 2,250 tickets at their compact Richlands home.

It was a happy coincidence then that those COVID restrictions were lifted just a day later, prompting Lions to quickly announce that the fixture would, in fact, take place at Richlands.

In the end, a total of 2,465 fans filed through the gates on a sweltering spring afternoon to watch the Roar run away with a 4-0 win from a genuinely absorbing clash.

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The result didn’t exactly do Lions FC justice because the Queensland NPL heavyweights – spearheaded up front by former Roar striker Jean Carlos Solorzano – turned in a spirited display in what was a predictably fiery contest.

It wasn’t until Roar striker Cyrus Dehmie bagged his first just after the interval that the visitors really started to take control, and Dehmie put some squad pressure on injured recruit Juan Lescano by finishing with a second-half hat-trick.

Standing right on top of the action in front of packed stands was an old-school football experience we don’t always get in the A-League, but too often we’re willing to throw it away for some spurious logic.

The FFA Cup will soon have a new name, but just as helpful would be some rules that make it as practical as possible for lower-league teams to only host fixtures at their home grounds.

There’s a genuine appetite for football in Australia. We just need to make it as easy as possible for fans to access it.

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