Words: Michael Flynn | Image: FNQ Heat
Gold Coast City captain Justyn McKay has experienced the highs and lows of the Westfield FFA Cup over the past three years and he is in no doubt as to what he prefers ahead of his side’s opening match of this year’s campaign.
City will discover their first opponent of this year’s campaign on Tuesday night when Gold Coast Premier League outfits Surfers Paradise Apollo and Gold Coast Knights meet at Croatian Sports Centre.
The winner of that match will then line-up against City in coming weeks, with that tie (venue and date to be determined) offering City the chance to make amends for last year’s disappointing exit at the corresponding stage of the competition.
However, it is the happier memories of previous campaigns that largely define City’s Westfield FFA Cup record.
City are one of the most successful Queensland clubs in the knock-out competition’s short history and remain the only team from the Sunshine State to ever reach the Quarter Finals stage of the competition.
McKay said it is this record that will inspire City this year rather than thoughts of avenging last year’s early exit.
“We had two really good runs in the first two years and, obviously, it is important to not take those kind of opportunities for granted,” McKay said.
“We’re proud of our record in the competition and just being part of it is an amazing feeling. It creates a buzz around the club that also pushes you on to try and do it again.”
He added that one key learning from last year’s defeat – and previous hard fought cup qualifying battles – was the need to nullify the opposition’s nothing-to-lose mentality.
“There is massive incentive for the local teams to progress through so we definitely have to be wary of them,” McKay explained.
“We will be much more prepared for that this year and we will match them for work rate. We are a lot more equipped this year to handle the physical and mental battle.”
McKay also believes this year's City side, who currently sit top of the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland table after seven rounds, are shaping up as the strongest the club has put forward in the Westfield FFA Cup.
“We want another crack at the A-League clubs. We have the strongest team we have had ever, I think, this year,” he concluded.
Hyundai A-League clubs enter the Westfield FFA Cup at the national Round of 32 stage, which requires City to win three straight qualifying matches against Queensland opposition to reach.
Prior to their return to cup competition, however, City will continue their push in the league, where they face off against Brisbane Roar Youth this coming weekend in Redcliffe.