by Mark Majdandzic
The final Round of 16 clash in the FFA Cup takes centre stage tomorrow night as QLD NPL side Gold Coast Knights FC play host to A-League ladder leaders Melbourne Victory at the Croatian Sports Centre.
Initially pencilled in for last Wednesday, the COVID outbreak striking majority of the A-League down played its hand and stopped the visiting Victory flying to the Gold Coast for the highly anticipated clash despite having no positive cases within their camp.
Almost 2,000 tickets have been sold heading into the final hours of the match with a strong home crowd expected to be right behind the Knights as they look to cause a major upset in the FFA Cup.
It has been over two months since the last time Knights took to the field in a competitive fixture, falling at the hands to local rivals Gold Coast United at home for the first time in their history.
A busy off-season saw a number of key personnel changes within the Knights camp as newly appointed head coach and ex-Socceroo and Celtic striker Scott Mcdonald began his reign with a host of new signings.
Jai Ingham, Mirza Muratovic, Janiel Da Silva and Tyson Martin are some of the new signings featuring in the clash against Melbourne Victory despite having not played a single game in the preliminary stages of the tournament.
Having previously made the final stages of the FFA Cup in 2018 and falling to Newcastle Jets, Knights will not shy away from the challenge ahead despite having had over 250 days between their first match in the 2021 FFA Cup and the Round of 16 clash.
Melbourne Victory have started the Tony Popovic era with a bang as they sit on top of the A-League ladder after six games played.
The ex-Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory coach has overseen massive change in his tenure at the club which has also featured two FFA Cup victories against Perth Glory and Adelaide City en route to the Gold Coast.
A deep squad at the club has seen the likes of Robbie Kruse, Marco Rojas and Matthew Spiranovic all feature heavily in the other FFA Cup matches heading into the clash.
Victory were set to face Brisbane Roar this weekend to kick off 2022, however the FA released a statement this morning calling the fixture off due to COVID cases within the Brisbane based club.
The question now looms whether or not the 2015 FFA Cup champions will run our more of their first team starters in the match to continue the momentum gained in the opening exchanges of the A-League season.
The game is set to kick off at 7:30pm local time in QLD (8:30pm AEDT) and will be live and free on 10play.com.auTickets are still available to be purchased at https://bit.ly/3y2ZjeW