Today Surfers Paradise Apollo takes on Sunshine Coast Fire in the final qualifier for the FFA Cup main draw. The stakes are high, and underdog Surfers Paradise has made no secret about the importance of this match.
Apollo striker Wade Russell was recently interviewed by regional tabloid the Gold Coast Bulletin where he said a win “. . . would be unbelievable.” Further he compared the team’s situation to that of an English FA Cup minnow. It’s just what the FFA would have been hoping for.
The club’s manager Dave Benigno spoke highly of his team’s close bond, noting the attractive style of football and the team’s pool recovery sessions on Nine News Gold Coast. On the tie with Sunshine Coast he said, “It’s much bigger than a Premiership or Grand Final win,” he said. One negative for the lower tier Apollo is the loss of Lyndon Dykes who scored a hat trick in the club’s last FFA Cup clash.
Despite the absence of Dykes Surfers Paradise will give themselves plenty of hope with the likes of playmaker Burcin Yorulmaz. Yorulmaz has scored five goals in the Gold Coast Premier League to date and picked up a goal in the previous FFA Cup clash against NPL (Aust 2nd Tier) South Western Queensland.
We spoke with local pundit Jay Stewart yesterday and he too said that Surfers Paradise had been hyping the game. “It’s a huge occasion for the club. They’ve just had three of their players return from a suspension, so they should be fit and raring to go,” he said.
On Sunshine Coast Fire, Stewart said the team come into the match off the back of a close loss to NPL leaders FNQ Heat. The club has been gradually gathering momentum after a slow start and finally the combinations are beginning to gel.
Sunshine Coast will be forced to fill their bench with sixteen year olds according to Stewart. Manager Sam Saif stated to media last week that his selection process was limited to 13 first team players as he had a number of cup-tied players. Sunshine Coast Fire does not have an U/20s squad, hence the need for sixteen year olds.
Nonetheless, Sunshine Coast have some weapons to watch out for including high school student Kobe Fuller, who has scored 6 NPL goals this season, winger/forward Shoichi Koshimizu and goalkeeper Sam Nickolls.
The importance of this game has been touted by both clubs, with neither Sunshine Coast nor Surfers Paradise having previously made the FFA Cup Round of 32.
The vital FFA Cup Round 7 clash kicks off at 5pm AEST, with Surfers Paradise hosting at Lex Bell Oval. If you can’t get to the match, follow the twitter account of Jay Stewart who will be providing full commentary.