A secret team pact was the catalyst for Manly United’s stunning Cup run which sees them play a ‘Sydney Derby’ against Olympic in the Westfield FFA Cup tomorrow night.
In what will be a huge occasion for the NSW NPL club, United get their moment on the big stage when they host their cross-town rivals in the Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 at Cromer Park on Tuesday night.
Despite struggling in the league and with one of the smallest budgets in the NSW NPL, the club has consistently punched above their weight especially when it comes to the Cup.
And with a huge crowd expected to get behind them at Cromer Park, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them keep their shot at national glory alive.
“Through the whole cup process the guys were exceptionally up for these games,” United coach Paul Dee told www.theffacup.com.au.
“The boys made a pact together that every cup game they went into was going to be do or die.
“And that’s showed in the effort they put in. If you’ve watch the cup games they have been really good. It was something we have spoken about and focused on the entire year.
“This is been something that the club said from the start, no pressure to do anything but every single person was consistent in their view that it would be enormous to get into the FFA Cup.
“It’s great to be able to host a game at the ground and showcase some of the good things at the club. It’s a great club and we’re doing some good things.”
While United have built their success around a team-based game, they do possess some talented individuals, including former Hyundai A-League striker Chris Payne.
Payne, who won an A-League title with Sydney FC in 2010, was thrown a lifeline by United at the start of the season and has been a key figure in the club’s fortunes.
“He’s (Payne) been very good for us. He was a Manly (junior) who went up to the A-League… he didn’t have a club when we were talking to him in off-season and we were lucky enough to get him,” Dee said of the 23-year-old who has ambitions for a return to the Hyundai A-League.
“He lives on the Central Coast and commutes here and he knows we look to him for a lot. We’ve also got Brendan Cholakian and Scott Balderson and with ‘Payney’, they are three of the best attacking players in the comp.
“If those three are fit and working well together, they put on heaps of the good play and then Payney’s always on the end to finish it, and he’s a deadly finisher.”
Dee knows his side have their work cut-out to knock off Grant Lee’s Olympic, who have improved over the course of the NPL season and in Evan Kostopoulos have a player who possess a genuine threat to the home side.
The two clubs have met once this season in the league, playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Cromer Park in May.
The FFA Cup kicks off on Tuesday with Newcastle club Broadmeadow Magic hosting host former NSL champions Brisbane Strikers at Magic Park (live and exclusive on Fox Sports 3 from 7pm).
As well as the live coverage from Magic Park, Fox Sports will be crossing live and showing goals and interviews from the other three games which are being played simultaneously.