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Gwelup, Dianella eye cup shocks

Football West News

The National Premier Leagues WA takes a break this weekend as focus turns to the last eight West Australian clubs still involved in the FFA Cup.

Six of those are NPL outfits while the two State League Division One teams dreaming of glory are Gwelup Croatia and Dianella White Eagles.

Dianella, who were one match from reaching the national stage last year, travel to Armadale on Saturday with coach Robbie Dunn putting his faith in what he admits will be “a makeshift side”.

“We had to draw an NPL side eventually and unfortunately they are in a good vein of form, so we know it’s going to be a tough one,” Dunn said.

“I’ve known Johnny (Armadale coach John O’Reilly) down the years through the other leagues. He’s a good coach and he’s got them firing.

“Unfortunately, we’ve lost a few players through injuries and blokes with jobs going up north, so it’s really rocked us in the last couple of weeks.

“All our injuries and losses have been in our back four. We’ve only got one bloke left out of the back four. So we’re just trying to put together a makeshift side to be honest and be competitive.”

Not that Dunn is throwing in the towel before a ball is kicked.

“We’ve certainly got game winners in Angel (Andres) up front and a few of the other boys such as Friday Ziko and Jose (Zunniga). There’s no doubt we can score. And it’s a cup game – you only need one score, don’t you.”

Division One leaders Gwelup Croatia are also enjoying another good cup run and have home advantage on Sunday against Subiaco.

Coach Taki Nicolaidis, who had success in the FFA Cup when at Perth SC, said their progress was reward for the hard work taking place on and off the pitch.

“From our end we are trying to improve as much as we can,” he said.

“The club is very ambitious. Investors have put in a lot of time and money to get the profile of the club increased and the club is getting the structure right.

“We came up from Division Two last year, the Amateur Division the year before that, so it’s been back-to-back promotions.”

Gwelup defeated NPL WA high-fliers Cockburn City in the previous round so Nicolaidis won’t be reading too much into Subi’s league struggles.

“We jumped a big hurdle in the last round against Cockburn and face another big test on Sunday,” he said.

“I have watched a few of their games. Their league form might not be as flash as last year but they are very workmanlike, very systematic and all of their players know their roles.”

The two other preliminary quarter-finals are all NPL WA affairs.

ECU Joondalup are at home to Forrestfield United on Saturday afternoon. The two sides met in the league last month just days after the draw was made and Forrestfield stunned their hosts 6-1 with 17-year-old Kristian Despotovski scoring four.

At E&D Litis Stadium Floreat Athena will be keen to put their poor league form on the back burner when they face Perth SC on Saturday night.

Fixtures
Saturday, May 19
ECU Joondalup v Forrestfield United (ECU Joondalup Football Stadium, 3pm)
Armadale v Dianella White Eagles (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 3pm)
Floreat Athena v Perth SC (E&D Litis Stadium, 7pm)

Sunday, May 20
Gwelup Croatia v Subiaco (Croatian Sporting Complex, 2.30pm)