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Who will prevail in all-Adelaide round of 16 clash?




Wednesday night’s Round of 16 Cup clash in South Australia will see a ghost of Australian football’s historical past come up against one of its most consistent professional clubs when Adelaide City clashes with Adelaide United.

Although the clubs have played against each other in the SA NPL and friendlies, this will mark the first time they will meet in a competitive match.

In a strange twist of fate, 20 years ago in season 2002-03 Adelaide City bowed out of the NSL, with the newly formed Adelaide United to become South Australia’s sole representative in the A-League.

Many will remember City knocking out the Western Sydney Wanderers thanks to a Thomas Love solo effort in an Australia Cup Round of 32 match in 2014 – the first time an NPL club had knocked out an A-League side.

There shouldn’t be any hidden surprises, though, as both teams have regularly had players and administrators change sides.

In the past 12 months United have signed tricky striker Asad Kasumovic and Lachlan Barr – who many consider to be the best NPL centre-back in all of Australia – from Adelaide City.

Several members of the City squad spent time with Adelaide United in the NPL.

City chairman Greg Griffin previously owned Adelaide United, and city’s coach, Paul Pezos, was in charge of United’s youth team.

Pezos is a coach that doesn’t get enough credit outside of South Australia – especially when you take in consideration the work that has been done since the off-field scandal in 2019 that saw the club almost relegated.

Adelaide City wrapped up the SA NPL on the final day of the season on the weekend, with a resounding 6-0 victory over Adelaide Olympic.

Winning the title this year was even more impressive after the club lost the country’s best NPL-level attacking player from a stats point of view, Kur Kur, who left mid-season for the Serbian Superliga.

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

City finished as the top scorers in the SA NPL with 55 goals in 22 games

Aladin Irabona and former Sydney FC player Alex Mullen bagged 13 goals each, and were ably supported by eight goals from Ayom Majok.

Irabona has forever been linked to various A-League clubs, while former Western United player Majok will be hopeful of once again getting a chance professionally.

All three of these players are dangerous, but the one to watch might be “Mr Adelaide City”, Nic Bucco.

At 32 years of age, the mercurial Bucco has been around Adelaide City for a long time and this season has been used intelligently by his coach as he starts to advance in years.

Bucco still has the vision, creativity, set piece ability and goalscoring powers to trouble sides – as seen by a stunning 30-minute hat-trick after coming off the bench in a Federation Cup match.

Strength of depth in midfield is a key element of this attacking City side with Jai King, Charlie Devereux, Daniel Bressan and Henry Filsell all battling for starting positions with Bucco.

While City’s attack and midfield are often praised, you can’t forget about the water-tight defence, conceding a measly 17 goals – which is the best defensive record by any team since the NPL changed to a 22-game format

At 35 years of age Matt Haliday is the lynchpin of the back four – the former Norwich City junior player has been with City since 2014 and seems to improve every season.

Now entering the twilight of his career and with retirement on his mind, Halliday’s leadership and communication skills will be critically important if City want to progress

Adelaide United will be firm favourites for this tie, but underestimate Adelaide City at your own peril – they know this United playing group very well and have a history of good results in the Australia Cup.

Australia Cup Round of 16

Adelaide City vs Adelaide United
Ground: ServiceFm Stadium
Wednesday 17th August, 7:00pm





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