Melbourne City FC’s quest to reach the Quarter Finals of the Westfield FFA Cup 2015 continues on Wednesday night when they host Hyundai A-League rivals Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
In a rematch of last season’s Elimination Final, City welcome the New Zealand outfit to Melbourne for the knockout clash, as John van’t Schip’s side look to continue their Cup campaign after a 2-1 win over Edgeworth Eagles in the Round of 32.
Ernie Merrick’s new-look Wellington outfit will be determined to avenge their finals loss against City in May, booking their passage to the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
With both sides in the midst of their pre-season preparation, van’t Schip believes that facing a stern test from A-League opponents will provide an indication of how his side is shaping up ahead of the new season.
“It’s going to be even more intense because the quality of Wellington is higher – with all respect to Edgeworth Eagles,” van’t Schip said.
“Wellington showed last year that they have a very good footballing team; they are good in transition, have a strong midfield and will have some other [new] players on the pitch as well.
“Both teams will have different line-ups then the last game we played against each other, but I think we are both at the same level in pre-season. It’s interesting to see where we are and what kind of things we have to work on before the league starts.”
New signing Bruno Fornaroli is expected to make his competitive debut for the Club following his arrival from Uruguayan club FC Danubio, with van’t Schip impressed with the strikers progression in training.
“Bruno is a great guy and he is a professional; he’s played in Italy, Greece, Uruguay and Argentina, so he’s a very experienced player and I’m sure he will give us something extra,” he said.
“He’s in the squad so he will be part of the game, we just have to see how many minutes, but looking at him in training he is making a good impression.”
van’t Schip may come up against a familiar face tomorrow night, with the Phoenix announcing the signing of former Ajax youth academy product Jeffrey Sarpong, as a replacement for outgoing Socceroo Nathan Burns.
“He’s a good player, I know him. He can play on the wings, in the midfield or in very attacking positions. He’s left and right, very mobile and has a good shot,” he said.
“He was in the [Dutch] national youth team and was one of the most promising players at the World Cup in Peru [in 2005] but he didn’t really progress how everyone expected him to, but the talent is there and his football is there so I think Wellington have made a good signing.”
With the Club’s new signings continuing to gel together, van’t Schip says his side are looking forward to playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season.
“We are working very hard on what we want to achieve. Of course getting players in a bit later and some coming back from injury, there is always work to be done,” he said.
“It’s a great game to play in our own stadium at AAMI Park. We are looking forward to that and hopefully we see a lot of fans coming out to support us.”