The coach plotting his own club’s FFA Cup downfall

Quiz question: which coach took on his own club in the FFA Cup?

The answer: Ante Juric. Keep this quirky stat up your sleeve to impress your friends for years to come.

The head coach of Sydney FC Women is preparing to take on his A-Leagues club at the helm of Sydney Olympic men’s team in the FFA Cup Round of 32 on Wednesday night.

Juric will welcome Sydney FC Men to Belmore Sports Ground, where Juric created countless memories as an Olympic star back in the days of the National Soccer League.

But as his two clubs collide on Wednesday night, Juric stresses there’s no secret plan in the works to topple the Sky Blues. He knows their formation, and he knows their strengths – but figuring out how to stop them is a work in progress.

“I always had a feeling it would happen,” Juric told KEEPUP. “It just seems to be the way in life.

“Sydney Olympic deserve to play a big club like Sydney FC because of the history. I never really thought about it on a personal level, even though I’m a coach there. It was more happiness for Sydney Olympic getting to play against such a big club.

“This is big for the club in a lot of ways, it’s been a long time since the club has made this round, so I’m proud of helping the club get there, again that’s why it’s a nice incentive to play Sydney FC, even though it’s going to be an enormously tough game to get through to the next round.

“I’ve definitely got the Sydney Olympic hat on for this because it’s completely different to my job at Sydney FC.

“Because it’s so separate in terms of not seeing the A-League team train, I don’t really cross paths there. I know Bimbi (Sydney FC head coach Steve Corica) well, we’re mates because of the long time we’ve spent in the game together… but we never really discuss his style. 

“We are different, the women’s and the men’s in terms of how to play, it’s not like we play the same system and I know it back to front, we play a different system to what Bimbi plays. 

“I do my homework, I’m not going to say I don’t. I’ve watched Sydney for a few years, and they play in a similar style. But knowing them and stopping them is a completely different story. 

“I haven’t tried to sneak in to their training in the last couple of weeks, it’s not my style.

“For me it’s more probably the media and fans going ‘oh, he’s on both (teams), it’s going to be great’, but I’ve not even thought about it. What I have done is our analysis on them and that’s it. 

“There’s no secret info. If we played Wollongong tomorrow I’d be doing the same in terms of analysis. There’s nothing special from my end, nothing secretive or detailed.”

The coincidences continue as brothers Darcy (left) and Max Burgess prepare to go toe-to-toe on Wednesday night

Preparation for the Round of 32 clash has been challenging for Juric and Olympic, who have had just weeks to train together after lockdowns lifted in New South Wales. 

The easing of restrictions allowed Juric to get his side ticking over once more, filling his calendar with training commitments with the two sides he oversees.

“Every day I’m training, pretty much,” he said. “At Sydney FC we train in the morning and have done for about five years, so I go to the morning sessions, then I’ll be at Olympic at night.

“Nothing clashes, there’s never any issue otherwise I wouldn’t have done this because I don’t want to not commit to someone. It’s all good and it works out well.”

Juric expects plenty of banter to fly between himself and his Sydney FC players, some of which fly the Sydney Olympic flag in the NPLW themselves, in the build-up to and aftermath of the FFA Cup clash, with Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend fanning the flames.

“We had a chat the other week and he said ‘you better not win, otherwise I’ll sack you!’,” Juric laughed. “That’s the only banter that’s come from the club in terms of that.

“I’m sure some (of my Sydney FC players) will go and watch, and the next day whatever the result is I’ll get either some congrats or a lot of teasing.”

“We’ll definitely have a crack,” he added. “The history of Sydney Olympic is a little bit like that. 

“The biggest thing I say to my players is it’s a big game for the club, adrenaline will get you somewhere. Miracles have happened in football, so you never know, that’s why you give it everything – but we are up against it.

“I played for Olympic in the old NSL and won a National Championship and Premiership, over 20 finals and a lot of them were at Belmore. I feel nostalgic about that from a Sydney Olympic point of view. That’s why I’m glad we drew Sydney FC, because that will happen for the fans and the people. It’s good for Sydney FC to play against a team with so much history.”

Juric captains Olympic against Sydney United in the 2004 NSL season

Match Details – Sydney Olympic v Sydney FC
Wednesday, November 24 2021
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Broadcast: 10 Play
Tickets: Buy Now