Slice of Cheese

Statewide Cup Friday Forecast

Friday Forecast: A Long Weekend of Football

The Easter long weekend brings with it its usual bevy of Cup Football action with games scheduled around the state across the weekend. There is nothing else in the sport quite like Cup football. Whilst over the course of an entire season the strongest sides will usually always win out, in a one-off sudden death game the underdogs can often prevail. A little bit of luck, a slightly off day from the favourites, or an inspired performance from the underdog can all lead to some shock results and it’s the unpredictable nature of this competition that makes it so special. It also throws up fixtures that we otherwise wouldn’t get to see with lower-division sides getting the chance to take their shot at sides from the higher divisions and there are plenty of those games to take in this weekend.

Lakoseljac Cup, supported by McDonalds.

The Lakoseljac Cup action kicks off on Saturday afternoon at UTAS Stadium with Hobart United taking on Launceston City in a curtain-raiser for the A-League fixture between Western United and Perth Glory. United might currently be sitting in 7th in the Championship but they have taken on some of the tougher sides in the league, drawing with University and defeating Taroona, plus they have played a game less, so it probably belies where they truly stand. They should offer a tough test for a Launceston City side that has started the NPL season well but crashed back to earth in a 4-0 loss to Devonport last Saturday. 

Nearby, at the NTCA ground, an undefeated Northern Rangers side will host Somerset in an all Northern Championship match-up. Neither has played a common opponent in the league yet and Somerset have probably had the tougher schedule so far, so this could be a tight one though Rangers will certainly enter as favourites against a Sharks outfit not quite hitting the heights they did in 2021 so far in 2022. 

In the third game taking place in Launceston for the afternoon, NPL stragglers Riverside Olympic will look to chalk up their first victory of 2022 when they take on Hobart City Beachside. As an NPL team Riverside really should be winning this one, but given their struggles so far they are certainly on Cupset alert against a Beachside team who might not have the results but have been pushing some of the better sides in the Southern Championship closely thus far.

In Saturday’s final game, Burnie United will make the long trip down to KGV to take on the current NPL leaders in Glenorchy Knights. It’s about as brutal of a draw as United could possibly have copped and they will certainly be up against it in taking on the defending NPL Champions. This would be an upset of staggering proportions if they could achieve it. 

Onto Monday where Kingborough United play host to the current Northern Championship leaders in Launceston United. United have got some quality players in their ranks, but the Lions certainly rank among the stronger sides in the NPL as shown by their 4-4 draw with South Hobart last weekend and should prove too strong here.

The only all NPL matchup will see Clarence Zebras hosting the Devonport Strikers. The Strikers are the current Cup holders and have shown an affinity for this competition, winning it 3 times in the past 6 seasons. The Zebras put in a gutsy display against the Knights at this venue last weekend and will need to show a similar defensive grit if they are to progress past this strong Strikers side.

New Town Eagles might fancy their chances of providing a Cupset as they have been drawn at home to take on the Olympia Warriors. The defending Southern Championship winners are 3 from 3 to start their title defence and take on a youthful Olympia side who have not started the season well in the Top division. They got back on track with a 5-0 win over Riverside and should still be winning this as an NPL side, but it does look the most likely of all the Round of 16 games to potentially spring a surprise. 

In the final game of the weekend, Taroona will be hoping that home ground advantage can help them upset one of the competition favourites in South Hobart. South have won the Cup 6 times since 2008 and appear well poised to contend again this year. Taroona beat South’s reserve side 2-1 a couple of weeks ago, but now they must face the senior side and that might prove too much of a step up in quality despite Taroona boasting one of the stronger squads in the Southern Championship.

McDonald’s Women’s Statewide Cup

With 12 sides entering the Women’s Statewide Cup, that means that four sides were drawn out to go automatically through to the Quarter Finals of the competition and so they get to put their feet up over the Easter break and see who may await them in the final eight. Those sides were Devonport, Kingborough Launceston United and Metro FC. 

The Round of 16 action has already begun, with Clarence Zebras comfortably accounting for Olympia 5-0 on Wednesday night. It was an improved showing from the Warriors from their last meeting in the WSL, but the Zebras were still far too strong and largely had the game wrapped up by half-time racing to a 3-0 lead at the break. They will once again be one of the red-hot favourites to take out the Statewide Cup and there is plenty of big-game experience in their ranks. It’s fair to say everyone will be keen to avoid them in the Quarter Final draw.  

They will be joined in the next round of the cup by Ulverstone after Riverside were hit by Covid unavailabilities. With a backlog of Championship games already needing to be caught up on, Riverside made the decision to not pursue a rescheduling of the game and instead will forfeit to see the Reds through to the final 8.

That leaves just the two fixtures to be played out over the weekend, with the first of the two games seeing Glenorchy Knights taking on South Hobart. Given South’s reserves side defeated Knights in the Southern Championship a couple of weeks earlier, the WSL contenders should be expected to progress comfortably enough, but this will be a good opportunity for the Knights players to get a taste of the action at a higher level and show what they are capable of.

In the final game, Taroona gets the chance to shake off their tough start to the WSL season with a winnable cup tie against non-divisional opponents, though in terms of drawing a team from the lower division, they probably couldn’t have gotten a tougher opponent. University have started the Championship season with 3 wins from 3 games and after going through the entire 2021 season undefeated, it’s been a long time since they tasted defeat. A 6-4 loss to Kingborough in this stage of the competition back in April of 2021 was the last time they failed to win, so Taroona will not have it easy. This should be an intriguing game to round out the Statewide Cup action on Monday afternoon.