‘Humble kid’ & ‘absolute beast’ steal the show in ‘mouthwatering appetiser’ for A-Leagues start

Sydney FC 3-1 Brisbane Roar | Sky Blues fight back to claim Australia Cup crown

The 2023 Australia Cup final was enthralling from minute one to its conclusion – and in the height of the second-half tension, commentator Robbie Thomson paused to deliver a statement to get Australian football fans excited:

“What a mouthwatering appetiser for the A-League season!”

Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar delivered an Australia Cup final to savour, with the fast-starting Roar taking a one-goal lead to half-time before the Sky Blues powered to a 3-1 win by the final whistle.

The all-action final was played at a rapid pace, with all the twists and turns combining to create an entertaining affair – and a strong platform to launch into the A-Leagues action in 2023-24.

MATCH REPORT: Dramatic turnaround leads Sydney FC to 2023 Australia Cup glory


The full-time result was a deflating one for Brisbane; a first major final for almost a decade could have ended in glory if not for the Sky Blues’ sizzling second half that turned the tie on its head.

But those draped in orange in the stadium – and the club’s fans watching on at home – will come away from final defeat feeling collectively optimistic about the likelihood of a much-improved Isuzu UTE A-League Men campaign under new head coach Ross Aloisi.

And there might not be any more exciting prospect for the Roar faithful than watching the continued development of 18-year-old Thomas Waddingham.

The teenager scored his fourth Australia Cup goal in as many games at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, becoming the youngest cup final scorer since the tournament recommenced in 2014. 

Roar boss Aloisi has done his best to keep the hype surrounding his young livewire under wraps throughout pre-season – but after his historic goal on Saturday night, there was no containing the excitement for what the kid from Cairns might be able to deliver this coming A-League Men season.

Brisbane defender Scott Neville sung the praises of his young teammate in the aftermath of the 3-1 defeat.

“He’s been amazing from day one in pre-seaon,” Neville said. 

“They call him (Erling) Haaland, because he’s just one of those physical players, he’s quick, but he’s also a really good finisher.

“Even his finish today was a poacher’s finish, so to have that kind of finish in your locker at 18, is really good. 

“He’s a really humble kid, he doesn’t talk much… he’s got a really good head on his shoulders. And if he continues to work hard and take influence from Ross and the players we have, I think he can go a very long way.”


The first half was highlighted by Waddingham’s special finish – but the second half belonged to the Sky Blues, and their star recruit Fabio Gomes whose brace off the bench – bookmarking Robert Mak’s gamebreaking strike – helped fire Sydney to victory.

Like Waddingham, Gomes will hope to use his Australia Cup final form to launch into a debut season in the A-League Men.

The two strikers arrive in the league in contrasting contexts: Waddingham, a Roar academy graduate whose development will be a key storyline to watch. Fabio, an experienced striker and star recruit who will shoulder a heavy goalscoring burden as Sydney’s spearhead. 

Sky Blues keeper Andrew Redmayne lauded Fabio’s impact through his early weeks at the club, and gave the Sydney fans reason to be excited about what’s to come from the Brazilian.

“He’s an absolute beast,” Redmayne said. “The size of him, he’s a class finisher but he’s also got a really high work rate. I’m sure he’ll score lots of goals and (add) lots of excitement, but also lots of energy, and that real South American passion for football.”

The Liberty A-League Women season kicks off next weekend, with the Isuzu UTE A-League Men campaign getting underway one week later on October 20.

KEEPUP followed along LIVE to bring you all the goals, highlights, and biggest talking points of the 2023 Australia Cup Final. Re-live the action via the match blog below.