This year’s Australia Cup fairy tale is a team from NSW’s 4th tier: Who else is still alive?

The national stages of the 2023 Australia Cup are drawing nearer. KEEPUP takes a look at how things are shaping up in each state.

The Magic of the Cup is in the air as the national stages of the Australia Cup edge ever closer.

Over 700 teams from across the country started in this year’s competition, but that number is now down to 69 as the Preliminary Rounds in each state come to their crescendo.

Sides from across the Isuzu UTE A-League, NPL, state league and even metro competitions remain and while some are dreaming of silverware, there are others who long simply for the chance to compete on the national stage against the best this country has to offer.

With the final 32 sides starting to take shape, KEEPUP had a look at the state of play in each of the federations.

Featured image: Northbridge FC

Slot allocation in Round of 32
Isuzu UTE A-League10
Capital Football (ACT)1
Football NSW4
Football Northern NSW2
Football Northern Territory1
Football Queensland4
Football South Australia2
Football Victoria5
Football Western Australia2
Already qualified for Australia Cup Round of 32

The Isuzu UTE A-League’s top eight sides on the final Round 26 standings have all qualified for the national stages. Western United and Brisbane Roar’s wins over Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory respectively ensured they would miss out on the playoffs.

Melbourne City
Central Coast Mariners
Adelaide United
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sydney FC
Wellington Phoenix
Western United
Brisbane Roar

Australia Cup playoffs

The league’s bottom four sides will battle it out for a spot in the Round of 32, with the fixture details still to be determined.

9th place Perth Glory will take on wooden spooners Macarthur FC, while Newcastle Jets face Melbourne Victory.

The winners of each contest will advance to the national stage.

Fixtures – (Details: TBC)

Perth Glory v Macarthur
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

Australian Capital Territory

The battle for the ACT’s one spot in the Round of 32 comes to a crescendo next week.

Canberra Croatia will take on league leaders Canberra Olympic in the “Canberra Classico” on June 3 at Deakin Stadium in the Federation Cup final where the winner will not only take home silverware but advance to the national stages.

Both sides progressed to the final after wins over Gunghalin United and Belconnen United respectively, with Croatia getting the job done against the former in extra time 5-3.

The reigning premiers Croatia last made it through to the national stage in 2018 while Olympic are looking to make it back to the big stage for the first time since 2017.

In 2016, Olympic incredibly made it all the way to the Semi Finals where they lost 3-0 to Sydney FC.


Canberra Croatia v Canberra Olympic
Date: Saturday, June 3
Venue: Deakin Stadium
Time: 5:30 PM (AEST)

New South Wales

They couldn’t, could they?

The story of New South Wales qualifying has been Northern Suburbs Football Association side Northbridge FC and their incredible Cup run.

Northbridge – who ply their trade in NSW’s fourth tier – are now only one win away from a spot in the national stages.

They kicked off their Australia Cup campaign with a 5-3 win over Sutherland Shire FA side Cronulla Seagulls before knocking off Central Coast Football’s Wyoming FC 2-0 in the following round.

In the next round, they shocked League One side Dunbar Rovers 1-0 then defeated yet another second tier outfit, Mounties Wanderers, 3-0.

Now, they will face their most difficult task yet, NPL NSW side Mt Druitt Town Rangers for a spot in the national stages.

“I think the Australia Cup has been excellent for the boys,” Northbridge FC striker and former NPL NSW Men’s player Nathan Separovic told the Australia Cup website.

“Not only from the results and success so far, but the energy it’s brought to everyone involved. The playing group and staff know this is a special group, and it’s been a great opportunity for us to showcase that in the Cup.

“We know the Cup is a good opportunity for us to put the club in the spotlight. With several boys having played at higher levels, we’re not short of quality.

“Having beaten a few Football NSW League One teams to get to where we are today, I think it’s fair to say we haven’t been taken lightly and we’re a well-respected outfit.”

Last season, fifth tier NSW outfit Wollongong United made it through to Round of 32, while in 2015, Balmain Tigers progressed into the national stages as a third division.

Hakoah Sydney City East did the same from the third tier, when they were in the Round of the 32 during the inaugural year of the competition.

In the other fixtures, 2022 Australia Cup runners-up Sydney United 58 host NWS Spirit, state heavyweights APIA Leichhardt and Sydney Olympic lock horns and third tier NSW outfit Inter Lions take on NPL NSW side Rockdale Ilinden.

The tournament also doubles as the Waratah Cup, with the winners of these fixtures advancing to the semi finals.


Sydney United 58 v NWS Spirit
Date: Wednesday, May 31
Venue: Sydney United Sports Centre
Time: 7:30 PM (AEST)

APIA Leichhardt v Sydney Olympic
Date: Wednesday, May 31
Venue: Lambert Park
Time: 7:30 PM (AEST)

Inter Lions v Rockdale Illinden
Date: Wednesday, May 31
Venue: Majors Bay Reserve
Time: 7:30 PM (AEST)

Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Northbridge FC
Date: Tuesday, June 6
Venue: Popondetta Park
Time: 7:30 PM (AEST)

Northern New South Wales

There are still a three rounds of qualifying to go in Northern New South Wales, before the two national stage sides are determined.

Round 5 continued overnight with Edgeworth Eagles defeating Charlestown Azzurri, and they will now face Lambton Jaffas in the penultimate round.

Meanwhile, Alstonville FC will face the whoever comes out victorious between Newcastle Olympic and Valentine Eleebana in the other fixture.

In the sixth round, Broadmeadow Magic will face Bungalow SC, while Maitland take on Belmont Swansea United.

The four winners will advance to the final stage of qualifying, where the two victors of said fixtures progress to the national stages.


Newcastle Olympic v Valentine Eleebana Football Club
Date: Tuesday, May 30
Venue: Darling Street Oval
Time: 7 PM (AEST)


Broadmeadow Magic FC v Bangalow SC
Date: Saturday, June 10
Venue: TBC
Time: 2:30 PM (AEST)

Maitland FC v Belmont Swansea United FC
Date: Saturday, June 10
Venue: Cooks Square Park
Time: 7 PM (AEST)

Edgeworth Eagles FC v Lambton Jaffas FC – TBC

Alstonville FC v Newcastle Olympic OR Valentine Eleebana Football Club – TBC

Northern Territory

Two rounds of qualifying remain in the Northern Territory, after University Azzurri booked their place into the final four with a victory over Casuarina.

After receiving the bye in the last round, Hellenic Athletic will take on the Azzurri for a spot in the decider, where they will face one of Verdi FC or last season’s NT representative Mindil Aces.

A win also be crowned the winner of the Sport’s Minister Cup.

No side from the Top End has ever progressed past the Round of 32, and only Hellenic and Mindil have made it to the national stages from the remaining four sides.


Hellenic Athletic v University Azzurri
Date: Tuesday, May 30
Venue: Darwin Football Stadium
Time: 7:45 PM (AEST)

Verdi FC v Mindil Aces
Date: Saturday, June 3
Venue: Ross Park
Time: 7:30 PM (AEST)


The penultimate round of Cup qualifying got underway in the Sunshine State this week.

Lions FC and Moreton Bay United both progressed to the final with resounding 8-0 and 7-1 wins respectively over North Star and Brisbane Strikers on Tuesday night.

Last year’s quarter-finalists Peninsula Power knocked off Caboolture 2-0, as did the reigning NPL Queensland champions Gold Coast Knights who defeated Brisbane City 4-2.

Meanwhile, Gold Coast United defeated Broadbeach United 2-0, and fellow NPL Queensland outfit Redlands saw off Magic United 5-4 in an incredible nine-goal thriller.

Redlands led 4-1 after 63 minutes, scoring a hat-trick of penalties to open up a three-goal deficit. Magic went down to 10, but incredibly sent the game to extra time with three goals in the last 15 minutes.

However, it was the visitors who would come away with the win, scoring a 114th minute winner to seal passage into the next round.

There will be, however, at least one fourth tier Queensland side in the final round of qualifying when FPQL Far North outfit Edge Hill United – who qualified in 2021 – take on FPQL Wide Bay side Across The Waves FC.

Meanwhile, sixth tier Yeronga Eagles face fourth division outfit Caloundra on Saturday evening.

The winners of these contest play off in the final round, where the four Queensland sides in the national stages will be determined.


Yeronga Eagles v Caloundra
Date: Saturday, May 27
Venue: Leyshon Park
Time: 5 PM (AEST)

Edge Hill United v Across The Waves
Date: Saturday, June 10
Venue: The Waves Sports Complex
Time: 4 PM (AEST)


Lions FC
Moreton Bay United
Gold Coast United
Peninsula Power
Gold Coast Knights
Redlands United

South Australia

And then there were four.

Campbelltown City and Croydon Kings became the last two sides to book their place in the final round of South Australian qualifying, after wins over Adelaide City and Adelaide University respectively.

Now the two sides, along with West Torrens Birkalla and North Eastern MetroStars will battle for the two allocated spots in the national stage.

League One outfit Birkalla will be looking to cause a shock and knock off MetroStars in the first of the two fixtures, while their opponents can become the side with the most appearances of any South Australian side in the national stages (four) with a win.

Meanwhile, Campbelltown and Croydon are in search of their first Round of 32 berth since 2019 and 2015 respectively.


West Torrens Birkalla v North Eastern MetroStars
Date: Wednesday, May 31
Venue: ServiceFM Stadium
Time: 8 PM (AEST)

Campbelltown City v Croydon Kings
Date: Wednesday, June 7
Venue: ServiceFM Stadium
Time: 8 PM (AEST)


Two of Tasmania’s heavyweights will square off for a spot in the Australia Cup national stages, as South Hobart and Devonport City both booked their spot in the final of the Lakoseljac Cup.

South Hobart thumped Hobart United 5-0, while reigning champions Devonport just saw off Clarence Zebras 3-2 to secure their place in the decider.

Devonport made the Round of 32 last year, but were eliminated by the Wellington Phoenix, while their opponents are looking for their first trip to the national stages since 2019.


South Hobart v Devonport City – Details: TBC


The final 10 sides in the Victorian lot of qualifying were determined on Tuesday night, as another six teams booked their place in the final round.

Last season’s Semi Finalists and reigning NPL Victoria champions Oakleigh Cannons were joined by top tier sides Melbourne Knights and St Albans Saints, along with NPL3 outfit Geelong SC, State League One’s Yarraville Glory and State League Two side Clifton Hill.

Yarraville caused perhaps the greatest ‘cupset’ of the round, eliminating NPL3 side North Sunshine Eagles on penalties.

They joined Heidelberg United, Hume City, NPL2 side Northcote City and NPL3 outfit Goulburn Valley Suns in the next round – which also doubles as the Dockerty Cup.

The draw for the final round took place on Thursday.


Heidelberg United v St Albans Saints

Oakleigh Cannons v Geelong SC

Northcote City v Clifton Hill

Melbourne Knights v Yarraville Glory

Goulburn Valley Suns v Hume City

Western Australia

Western Australia’s preliminary rounds have reached the penultimate stage with eight teams still in contention for the national stage.

State Cup holders Cockburn City will take on State League Division One side Gwelup Croatia. The winners will face either Balcatta Etna or Floreat Athena in a home decider

Meanwhile, Division One Fremantle City – who have been the giant killers of the qualifiers thus far – face Inglewood United and will be looking for a third straight scalp against NPL opposition.

The victor will face either Sorrento FC or Division Two Swan United in the other semi.

Although they lost 5-1 to Stirling Macedonia in the last round, Swan United booked their spot in the final four as a result of the Lions breaching a Match Documentation competition rule.

Stirling have five business days from May 23 to appeal the decision.

Round Six will take place between 6-8 June, while the following round will be between 20-22 June.

ROUND SIX – 6-8 June

Fremantle City v Inglewood United

Sorrento FC v Swan United

Cockburn City v Gwelup Croatia

Balcatta Etna v Floreat Athena

ROUND SEVEN – 20-22 June

Fremantle City or Inglewood United v Sorrento FC or Swan United

Cockburn City or Gwelup Croatia v Balcatta Etna or Floreat Athena