SOUTH Melbourne and Heidelberg United are preparing for potentially “life-changing” FFA Cup quarter-final clashes after securing historic wins.
South winger Leigh Minopoulous and Heidelberg coach George Katsakis admitted the FFA Cup has given hope to ambitious players and coaches alike.
Heidelberg secured a dramatic penalty shootout win after Sean Ellis’ extra-time goal was cancelled out in the 1-1 draw away to fellow ex-NSL club Sydney United.
While South Melbourne’s A-League hopes have dominated discussion, their talented batch of stars remain determined to forge their own individual paths to professionalism.
Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over WA side Sorrento gives Marcus Schroen, Nick Epifano, Minopoulos and ex-A-Leaguers Matt Foschii and Matt Millar another chance to shine on the national stage.
“It only takes one game, one performance and lives can change,’’ Minopoulos said.
“It gives everyone hope, they’re in the spotlight. We’ve got a lot of players that can make it at the next level, I have no doubt.
“We’ve got Nick Epifano who I think is as talented as anyone in this country. He scored two goals and you never know, his life could change, so you look forward to the national stage.’’
Katsakis said the FFA Cup had breathed life into historic clubs like his, whom he played for in the NSL.
“Knowing that we’ve played Melbourne City in the quarterfinals and we’re back there again, it’s really big for the club and it (the FFA Cup) has put the club back on the map,’’ Katsakis said.
“For players and even from a coaching perspective, it exposes a lot us to the broader football community and gives opportunities. There’s nothing there to say that with the right resources, (we couldn’t succeed).
“At the moment it’s a bit of (an A-League) merry-go-round with players and coaches, there’s a lot of recycling going on.
“With the A-League and nonrecognition of NPL clubs, especially the bigger ones, it’s time clubs like ourselves, South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights shine and get back to where they belong.’’
Sorrento’s top scorer, PE teacher Sean Canham will have surgery this week after snapping his Achilles in a bizarre scene just before the break.
The industrious striker collapsed in pursuit of the ball and was flashed a second yellow for diving, with the veteran needing to be carried off by two Sorrento officials.
“Sean snaps his Achilles. He needs an operation to stitch it back on and he’s out for six-to-nine months, and the referee sends him off for simulation for a second yellow,’’ Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell said.
“I don’t know how he can justify that to himself. That changed the game completely.’’
Originally published as Cup giant-killers: “Lives can change”
Source: sports dailytelegraph