On Sunday afternoon, Sydney FC will travel to Leichhardt Oval to take on Western United in a tantalising all A-League clash in the Australia Cup Quarter Finals.
The Sky Blues will be looking to navigate their way past the Victorians and securing a spot in the Semi Finals of the national cup competition for the first time since the 2021/22 edition where they beat Brisbane Roar 1-0 at the same stage.
Steve Corica’s side come into this clash in good form having performed well in their pre-season clashes against local NSW sides but this will be the first time that they have faced opposition outside of NSW this season. They also comfortably made their way into the last eight of the competition by dismantling APIA Leichhardt, NPL Champions, in the Round of 16.
Goals to Anthony Caceres and Pat Wood were enough for the Sky Blues to put their name in the hat with International stars Robert Mak and Joe Lolley running the show on a wet Wednesday night in Sydney’s inner west.
It will be a welcome return for fan favourite Max Burgess who comes back into the side following his two game suspension for his reckless challenge in last season’s Isuzu UTE A-League Semi Final against Melbourne City. Burgess has looked like his usual self in pre-season and could be in line for a starting spot with Robert Mak only arriving back in the country today following his stint with his national team, Slovakia, where he netted in a 3-0 victory over Liechtenstein on Tuesday morning.
New signing Fabio could be seen at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, however it is more of a wait and see, with the 6ft 4 Brazilian still adjusting to the playing style and getting up to speed.
Otherwise, Steve Corica has a full squad at his disposal with Rhyan Grant returning from injury for this clash after he missed the previous two rounds due to a calf complaint picked up early in pre-season.
As for Western United, they come into this match having a mixed bag of results so far. They have taken on Melbourne City twice and played two NPL teams in the Cup along with a test against Brisbane Roar.
Against City the first time, they played 135 minutes of football and at 1-1 at the end of the 90 minutes, Western found two goals in the additional 45 minutes. The second time around, they fell 1-0 to the reigning Premiers at Casey Fields and in the Aloisi brother’s first match up, it was Ross Aloisi’s team who got the better of John, running out 3-1 wiinners.
As for their Australia Cup campaign, this will be their first match-up with an Isuzu UTE A-League side this tournament having manoeuvred past Gold Coast Knights and Edgeworth Eagles in the earlier rounds.
The Knights proved a tough prospect for the Green and Black, and relying on former Sydney FC shot stopper Tom Heward-Belle to save them on numerous occasions. Ultimately as the hosts pushed for an equaliser following Western’s second half goal from a set-piece, Kinghts were hit on the counter and punished by Aloisi’s side who set up this meeting with the Sky Blues on Sunday with a 2-0 scoreline.
There are a couple of notable Sydney FC players within the ranks with the aforementioned Heward-Belle appearing to take the number one spot in goal and James Donachie starting in defence. One to watch for the Green and Black will be Daniel Penha who signed for Western on from Atletico Mineiro after impressing during his time in the Hunter with Newcastle Jets and he could be in line to make his debut this Sunday at Leichhardt Oval.
This is Western United’s first appearance in the Quarter Final of the Australia Cup having never made it further than the Round of 16 stage in their short history.
This Sunday promises to be an exciting encounter between two teams who in their last meeting, provided a 3-3 thriller at Allianz Stadium in which Robert Mak scored a fantastic goal in stoppage time after returning from International Duty. Will we see more of the same this weekend?
Sydney FC v Western United
Australia Cup Quarter Final
Sunday 17th September 2023
Leichhardt Oval, Leichhardt, NSW
Kick Off: 3pm AEST
Gates Open: 2pm AEST
Tickets: Click Here