Preparations over as Cup journey begins for Balmoral

Balmoral coach Sergio Lunedei. (Supplied)

By Lance Jenkinson

You know the football season is edging closer when Football Victoria runs its live draws for the qualifying rounds of the FFA Cup.

The lower league teams will begin their quest on the weekend of February 15, including Brimbank sides Balmoral and Keilor Wolves.

Both local sides have drawn home fixtures with Balmoral taking on Wendouree side Forest Rangers and Keilor Wolves facing Bendigo team Epsom.

Balmoral began its preseason in the new year and has already played three friendlies, but coach Sergio Lunedei said the FFA Cup generates a bit more excitement and meaning for his players than what regular practice matches do.

“When you play real competitive football, your players are more concentrated and that’s a fact,” Lunedei said.

“When they’re more concentrated, they play in a certain way and try to bring home the result.

“That’s why it’s always better to play a real match.”

The beauty of the cup is the unknowns that come along with it.

Particularly in the early rounds, many of the teams are unfamiliar with their opponents, such is the case with Balmoral and Forest Rangers.

“I’ve never seen them play and I don’t have much information on them,” Lunedei said.

“We have to make sure we do our jobs and finish it off as soon as we can. “It’s good to face these teams that we never get a chance to play against.”

While the league season is still two months away, Balmoral will return to state league 5 eager to go one step better after a second placed finish last season.

The bulk of the Balmoral team from last season will return, along with some handy recruits that Lunedei hopes will be the missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle.

“Last year, we put down the foundations of the team, so the core is staying,” he said.

“The competition is getting better.

“I don’t think other teams are there waiting for us to win it, so they’ll be strengthening up for sure.

“We’re ready for that and we’re ready for the challenge. “I’ve been working as well, trying to strengthen up the team, so I’m sure we’ll be there challenging again.”

Star striker Federico Rossini will be returning to Balmoral this season. Rossini was a man in demand after scoring 29 goals last campaign.