FFA Cup 2021 Round of 32 Preview – Holders begin cup defence



The wait is finally over as Adelaide United begin its FFA Cup title defence against Western Australian outfit Floreat Athena in Perth on Sunday afternoon.

History will be made as well with the clash being the first last 32 match played on the weekend.

The Reds have established themselves as the cup specialists since the tournament’s inception in 2014 after reaching four finals and winning three of them.

Indeed, the inaugural winners have triumphed in the previous two iterations with victories over Sydney FC and Melbourne City in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Sunday’s meeting will also be the first time, the Reds have faced NPL opposition from Western Australia.

The opponents

Coached by Vas Vujacic Athena’s campaign ended last week in a 6-3 grand final loss to Perth Soccer Club. They also finished runners-up in the league to the same opponents but did prevail in the state cup final. Athena have appeared twice in the competition before but have never advanced to the Round of 16. However, as one of the local powerhouses in Perth, Athena are certainly capable of an upset so the Reds cannot afford any form of complacency to creep in.

Veart on team’s preparation…

We still haven’t had a proper game yet. So it’s going to be our first game tomorrow. So we’ll be a little bit rusty maybe at the start but I’m sure once the game gets going the boys will get back into the swing of things.

Veart on being wary of cupset…

That’s the magic of the cup. It doesn’t matter where you play in the world, the cup games are always exciting especially when you’ve got NPL clubs playing against A-League clubs. Everyone, especially in Australia, all likes an underdog so it’s going to be exciting and it’s important we go there and put on a professional performance.

Veart on fitness status of new signings…

The late arrivals are a little bit underdone. Other than that, everyone else is fairly fit, so the boys are keen to get out and have a game. Isaias is ready to start, Jacob (Tratt) is ready to start, George (Blackwood) is ready to start out of the late arrivals. There’s only Nick Ansell that’s not available.

Team news

A couple of the new offseason signings will likely feature in some capacity on Sunday. Isaías and George Blackwood could make their second debuts for the Club, while Jacob Tratt is also a chance of playing. However, Stefan Mauk and Craig Goodwin are ruled out as they are continuing their recovery from respective offseason surgeries.

Key player

Ben Halloran will be integral to Adelaide’s attacking game plan again this season and will be hoping to begin where he left off last year having won the Aurelio Vidmar Medal. The winger can win a match on his own boot and is also equally selfless with a high assist rate too. Expect him to cause the Athena defence problems, particularly if he is provided time and space in possession.

FFA Cup Record

Floreat Athena
2014 – Did not qualify
2015 – Did not qualify
2016 – Round of 32
2017 – Did not qualify
2018 – Did not qualify
2019 – Round of 32
2020 – Competition not held

Adelaide United
2014 – Winners
2015 – Quarter finals
2016 – Round of 32
2017 – Runners-up
2018 – Winners
2019 – Winners
2020 – Competition not held

Match details:
Sunday, 26 September vs Floreat Athena
FFA Cup 2021 Round of 32
Kick-off 2.30pm ACST
Venue: E & D Litis Stadium
Stream: Live and Free via 10 play