A secret friendly game against an undisclosed A-League club has been crucial to Green Gully’s preparation for the FFA Cup quarter-final clash with Canberra Olympic at Deakin Stadium in the nation’s capital.
While the Cavaliers have endured a long 28-day wait for tonight’s match (September 27), one of the biggest games in the club’s history, Olympic has been involved in Capital Football finals and nationwide NPL finals.
So Cavs coach Arthur Papas decided to call in a favour from the big guns to ensure his side got much-needed match fitness and genuine hit-outs against quality teams.
“We had two games but they were both behind closed doors,” Papas said.
“We were able to play an A-League team – and we agreed with that team that we wouldn’t be publicising it.
“I’m really pleased with the way the players have gone about it. It’s not easy to be playing purely practice matches, but overall it’s been a positive preparation.”
It is going to be a huge night in the history of Green Gully – Papas believes it will rival any other game played by the Cavaliers.
“If you have a look at how many teams entered the competition and how many are left from the NPL, it shows what we’ve done already is quite amazing,” he said.
“I hope the boys and everyone realise it could be a special moment for the club.
“We’re only going to be able to enjoy it if we win it. That’s what it’s all about.”
Green Gully will be running into a dangerous Canberra Olympic team.
Olympic claimed the Capital Football title after crushing Canberra FC 3-0 in the grand final and provided a scare for Brisbane Strikers in the quarter-final of the nationwide NPL finals.
“They’ve had an outstanding season,” said Papas, who has scouted Olympic closely since the FFA Cup quarters draw was revealed. “They only conceded 16 goals the whole season and went on to win their grand final convincingly.”
Can Green Gully dust off the cobwebs and continue its dream run in the FFA Cup?
We may not have to wait long to find out.
“The first 15 minutes in this game is going to be critical,” Papas said.
“They’ve been playing competitive matches every week, so we’ll have to get ourselves into the game early.”
The best part about the long break for Green Gully is that anyone not on the season-ending injury list is now 100 per cent fit.
“Some obviously had season-ending injuries that haven’t come back, but otherwise we’ve got a full complement,” he said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
There will be a tinge of green in the crowd after Green Gully organised supporter buses to take fans to the game. For those not heading to Canberra, the club will be streaming the game live at Green Gully Reserve from 7.30pm.