And then, there were (almost) 32: Aus Cup brimming with special stories ahead of final rounds

The Australia Cup Round of 32 live draw takes place on Wednesday, June 28 – and there’s no shortage of fairy tale stories to watch as potential giant killers reach the national stage.

On Wednesday night, the 2023 Australia Cup breaks across state borders.

Of the 32 teams set to battle it out for Australia Cup glory, 30 are locked in; two more clubs from the Isuzu UTE A-League will join the action after a pair of playoffs taking place in Darwin in mid-July.

But before those playoffs comes the Round of 32 draw, set to be streamed live on 10 Play, Australia Cup Facebook & Football Australia YouTube on Wednesday night at 7pm AEST.

There are 22 clubs from the National Premier Leagues and below from all around Australia’s member federations preparing to take part in the national phase of the Australia Cup.

There are clubs venturing into the final 32 for the very first time, as well as powerhouses of the NPL that are not unfamiliar to the cut-throat stage of the famous knockout tournament.

Last season, Sydney United 58 made it all the way to the cup final, as the first team outside the A-League Men to do so. They’re back in the Round of 32 looking to go one step further in 2023.

Making their first foray into the Round of 32 are FNSW League One club Inter Lions FC. A squad featuring former A-League Men champion Daniel Georgievski and Joe Tilio, brother of Melbourne City star Marco Tilio, Inter Lions secured their passage to the Round of 32 with a shock 2-1 win over NPL NSW club Rockdale Ilinden FC, with Georgievski notching a goal and assist in a crucial display.

From Western Australia come Inglewood United, joining Inter Lions as a Round of 32 debutant. They’re one of two WA teams in the Round of 32 along with Floreat Athena, a club well known to Australia Cup viewers having reached the national phase of the tournament on three prior occasions.

Darwin’s Hellenic Athletic defeated Verdi FC from Alice Springs to lift the Football NT Cup and book their place in the Round of 32 for the first time in five years.

But arguably the story to watch as the balls come out of the pot in the Round of 32 draw emanates from Shepparton, Victoria as the club that launched the careers of both Alou and Garang Kuol, Goulburn Valley Suns, prepare to compete in the Round of 32 for the very first time.

The third-tier club stunned Victorian NPL VIC titans Hume City to get to the Round of 32, winning 2-0 in a game described as “probably the biggest in the club’s history.”

And history is what the NPL3 club is on the cusp of; on Wednesday night, they’ll learn their opponents in the Round of 32.

The Round of 32 features 22 clubs outside of the A-League Men – but there’s ample quality among each of their ranks, with many familiar faces to fans of Australia’s top football division set to feature in the national phase.

Canberra Croatia midfielder Kaz Patafta played for Portuguese giants Benfica, as well as Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets, and was included as a train-on member of the Socceroos’ 2006 World Cup squad.

Melbourne Knights boast A-Leagues legend Ivan Franjic and his brother Joey, as well as former Western United defender Ben Collins and ex-Perth Glory striker Ciaran Bramwell.

Pierce Clark (Perth Glory), Kenny Athiu (Victory), Anthony Lesiotis (Victory & Melbourne City), Kaine Sheppard (Jets), Adrian Zahra (Glory & City) and Brendan White (Roar & Victory) all feature in the squad of NPL VIC club Heidelberg United.

Former Celtic and Socceroos striker Scott McDonald coaches Gold Coast Knights. Jordan Farina – son of former Socceroos head coach Frank Farina – plays for Moreton Bay United, while ex-Adelaide United Fabian Barbiero plays for MetroStars in NPL SA.

Warren Moon, former head coach of Brisbane Roar, is now technical director at NPL QLD powerhouse Lions FC; among the Lions squad are former Roar defender Josh Brindell-South and Wellington midfielder Matthew Ridenton.

Oakleigh Cannons boast the likes of Anton Mlinaric (Roar and Sydney), Cameron McGlip (Victory) Nicholas Feely (Perth Glory), Wade Dekker (Melbourne City) and Chris Lucas (Gold Coast United), while Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio (Victory), Marc Marino (City, Adelaide) and Daniel Mullen (Adelaide, Wellington) will all push to feature in the Round of 32 for Campbelltown City.

These are just some of the names that leap off the page as A-Leagues alumni who compliment the plethora of top-shelf talent around Australia’s member federations preparing to give the Round of 32 a stir.

But what about the remaining two spots up for grabs?

Those will be filled by a pair of Isuzu UTE A-League clubs following the playoffs in Darwin in July:

Newcastle Jets FC vs Melbourne Victory FC
Date: Monday, July 17
Kick-off: 7.00pm (local)/7:30pm (AEST)
Venue: Darwin Football Stadium at Larrakia Park

Perth Glory FC vs Macarthur FC
Date: Tuesday, 18 July 2023
Kick-off: 7.00pm local / 7.30pm AEST
Venue: Darwin Football Stadium at Larrakia Park

Ticketing Details
Tickets for each match are $15 Adults, $10 Concession* and $40 Family
*Concession Card Holders, Senior Card Holders, Students
**Children 3 years and under free unless occupying a seat

Australia Cup 2023 Final Rounds Draw Principles

Details supplied by Football Australia

  • Each Australia Cup 2023 Final Rounds entrant will be placed in the ball pot.
  • In accordance with the Competition Regulations for Australia Cup Final Rounds matches other than the Australia Cup Final, the home club for each Australia Cup match will be determined as follows:
    • Where Australia Cup matches involve only Member Federation clubs, the first drawn Club will be the home club;
    • Where Australia Cup matches involve a Member Federation club and an Isuzu UTE A-League Men club, the Member Federation Club will be home club; and
    • Where Australia Cup Matches involve only Isuzu UTE A-League Men Clubs, the first drawn club will be the home club.
  • In all instances, Wellington Phoenix FC will be deemed the away club, irrespective of whether it is the first drawn club.

As in 2022, the draw will be entirely open throughout the Australia Cup 2023 final rounds.