Monaro Panthers are gearing up for their entry onto the national stage as they prepare for the Australia Cup Round of 32 and a visit to face Sydney United 58 at Edensor Park on Wednesday 3 August.
The fixture is a tricky assignment for the team that currently sit third in the Capital Football National Premier League, but one that the team are approaching with a quiet determination to showcase their ability to the wider watching Australian public.
Head Coach Frank Cachia knows all about what is coming, having led Canberra Olympic on two forays into the Australia Cup, memorably reaching the semi-final stage in 2016 before bowing out to A-League opposition in the shape of Sydney FC at Viking Park.
“Everyone at the club is excited about the opportunity of not only representing the region on a national stage, but also playing one of the traditional powerhouses in the country,” Cachia said of the match-up.
“We are under no illusions that we face a difficult task against quality opposition. But we would rather be in this position than not qualifying and only playing in our local competition.”
The Panthers hadn’t won any silverware for over twenty years prior to the commencement of the 2022 season in Canberra but have since added the Charity Shield and Federation Cup, the Australia Cup Qualifying Trophy in the National Capital, to the sideboard, tangible reminders of the growth of the Panthers as an elite force.
The team based in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, and who play at the Riverside Stadium, won’t be resting on their laurels, no matter what happens in their crunch clash with their storied Sydney peers.
And, fortunately, for Cachia and his coaching staff, the squad will likely be at full strength for the cup tie, welcoming back suspended Albanian playmaker Amilio Kista, first-time father Darren Bailey and hot-shot striker Andre Carle, the latter having recovered from a broken bone in his wrist.
With the return of those players comes the kind of headache any coach would want though and Cachia is already planning for that eventuality.
“We have a number of big decisions to make in the upcoming days on the starting line-up and bench,” Cachia commented. “I think impact off the bench could be key to the outcome, so the entire squad will have a role to play.
“Hopefully the performances over the past 18 months will help drive the continued success and growth of this club. I know the players and coaches take a great deal of pride in building their own legacy at the club.”
The Panthers become the sixth side from the ACT to compete in the Australia Cup following Tuggeranong United (2014), Gungahlin United (2015), Canberra Olympic (2016, 2017), Canberra Croatia (2018) and Tigers FC (2019, 2021).
Australia Cup Round of 32
Wednesday 3 August 2022
Sydney United 58 v Monaro Panthers
(Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park, 19:30)
Streaming: The match will be broadcast live on https://10play.com.au/live.
Travel: Monaro Panthers are running a supporter’s bus to the fixture. For more details contact the club.