Hume City and Oakleigh Cannons battle for a place on FFA Cup national stage

The Oakleigh Cannons have been the pride of Melbourne’s Greek community since 1972.

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The club was promoted to the Victorian Premier League – now the National Premier League – in 2003. Three year later, it won its first championship.

But the FFA Cup has taken them to a whole new level.

“I think making the quarter-finals is the biggest achievement of a club of Oakleigh’s stature,” said Oakleigh’s manager, Arthur Pappas, “and victory would just cement that and give us a good chance to pull off one of those great cup upsets, progress into the semi-finals and from there anything is possible.” 

The 2015 season has seen some massive changes to the club, with the arrival of Pappas in the coaching position and the signing of five former A-League players.

The club has risen from the bottom of the table to finish the season 11th, and won through to the quarter-finals in the FFA Cup. Now, former Melbourne Victory midfielder Steve Pantelidis is hoping he’ll get a chance to play against his old teammates in the semi-finals.

“It would be nice to get Melbourne Victory, my former team, or Perth Glory, or any other team. Really, it’s just a massive achievement is we can get to the semi-finals,” he said.

The ultimate goal for Oakleigh is to become the first National Premier League side to win the FFA Cup in Australia, but the competition also gives players a chance to show their skills to an elite level audience.

Ghanian born Kofi Danning has played for Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar, he’s hoping to get noticed by A-League selectors in the FFA Cup quarter-final.

“I still want to try and get back into the league, so any exposure to get us back into a higher level is what we all want and that’s why we all play to enjoy football and play at the highest level.”

And he’s not the only one.

Across town, Hume City players also have A-League dreams. Young gun Marcus Schroen proved to be the difference in his side’s victory in the round of 32 against the Brisbane Strikers, scoring a brace in the 4-3 win.

And while he’s currently studying, he’d like to make football his life.

“To make it as a professional, playing full time, in a pro environment, playing day in day out is something I really want to do,” he said.

Hume City FC was founded by Turkish-Australians north of Melbourne in 1979.

The club has undergone several rebrands in the past three decades, and captain Nick Hegarty said he was hoping FFA Cup victory would boost the side’s profile to the wider community.

“This stage is only the first time we’ve been able to get the football club out into the area of Hume. So knowing the club’s here and wanting to come and support, we can become a team the whole area can support.”

The club has a one win, one loss record against Oakleigh.

Hume City Manager Lupce Acevski said he was hoping the side can contain the Cannons and bring home the victory.

“I don’t really care about the score line as long as we win the game, it can be a 1-nil or a 10-9 as far as I’m concerned. I’m just really looking forward to it,” he said.

The FFA Cup draw ensures at least one second tier club makes the semi-finals, just who that will be is about to be decided.

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