Cup draw confirmed

REDMEN: Norths United were the best from the region last year. The made it through to round six last year. Few tournaments in Australian sport quite have the magic of the FFA Cup.
Nanjing Night Net

The country’s premier knockout soccer competition is set to kick-off for its fourth edition next month.

The reach of the Cup stretches far and wide, all the way from Darwin in the north to Tasmania in the south.

It also leaves an indelible mark on the Northern Inland Football scene with eight sides set to play off for the right to progress to regional qualifying at Coffs Harbour.

The round one draw for the preliminary stage of the Cup was completed on Tuesday and delivers some mouth-watering match-ups on the local scene.

Fresh from a deep run to the sixth round last year where the club ran into a red-hot Hamilton Olympic of Newcastle, Armidale’s Norths United opens its campaign on the road at Quirindi.

Armidale rivals Demon Knights and The Armidale School are drawn to play one another, while Tamworth’s North Companion will take on South Armidale United.

Premier League powerhouse Oxley Vale Attunga is set to welcome East Armidale United. OVA coach Tim Coates said it would be a different-looking Mushies side to last year’s title-winning outfit taking to the field first-up.

“We’vebeen training for four weeks and some of our players of a certain vintage start a bit later than the younger ones,” Coates said.

“From memory last year in our first FFA Cup game against North Armidale, around half of that team ended up playing our grand final side. The cup allows us to blood some fresh faces, whether they be younger players or newcomers to the side.”

Coates added East Armidale would present a challenge, despite some changes in the off-season.

“We played East Armidale in the first FFA Cup and beat them 3-1,” he said.

“They are going through a rebuilding phase at the moment, but the thing about a cup tie is you never take anything for granted.”

The first round of matches are set to take place in the opening week of March.

So the eight Northern Inland Football clubs will be whittled down to four, then two,before heading to Coffs Harbour for the next stage which pits the NI pairagainst the qualifiers from Mid North Coast or Far North Coast. Get through that, then the Newcastle clubs and a glamour tie in the round of 32 awaits.

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