The Wollongong Wolves were handed a dream FFA Cup round-of-32 match-up after drawing A-League heavyweights Sydney FC on Thursday.
In what shapes as a massive opportunity for the region to highlight it’s A-League credentials, the former NSL champions will host the Sky Blues in a knockout fixture in Wollongong in late July or early August.
The match is undoubtedly the marquee fixture of the round as one of just four games featuring a National Premier League club against an A-League opponent. Wolves coach Jacob Timpano couldn’t have been more pleased.
“I think coming up against Sydney or the Wanderers was going to be the dream, but Sydney FC being in the A-League since day one with some connections down here is a great result,” he said.
“It’s a big opportunity for the players and the club.”
The game comes at a crucial moment for the Wolves as they continue to push for a return to the national stage in the coming seasons. With A-League expansion expected in the not too distance future, the knockout fixture will provide a huge opportunity for South Coast supporters to come out in big numbers and catch the eye of the FFA.
“It’s massive to be back on the national stage,” Timpano said.
“The guys up in Sydney were talking about how the Wolves are still one of biggest traditional brands in Australian football.
“This is a great chance to get it back out there.”
The coach also hopes Wollongong’s marquee clash will act as added incentive for his men to perform in the NSW NPL.
Meantime, Sydney FC are set to begin their preseason for the upcoming A-League campaign next week.
Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold said the match will give his men something to target.
“We’ve got something to aim for now in the first round, playing a very motivated Wollongong Wolves team, and we’re looking forward immensely to the challenge,” he said.
Wollongong reached the same stage in the competition two seasons ago where they ultimately fell 1-0 to the Central Coast Mariners in front of a big crowd at WIN Stadium.