Central Coast Mariners star Josh Rose says South Coast Wolves will be treating the two sides’ Westfield FFA Cup clash as if it’s a grand final.
In a NSW coastal derby, the Mariners meet the Wolves in the Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 on Wednesday 20 August.
Rose, 32, is aware that for all NPL and lower division clubs, facing Hyundai A-League opposition will be the biggest day of their season.
And the prospect of Wolves knocking off Hyundai A-League stars in front of the Wolves home fans cannot be discounted.
For Nahuel Arrarte-s Wolves, the Mariners clash will be a chance to make history at the redeveloped WIN Stadium.
And Rose knows it.
“It-s great for those lower teams to prove themselves against A-League opposition. It gives them a great opportunity,” Rose told www.theffacup.com.au.
“I was watching the draw on Fox Sports and it was exciting stuff.
“Obviously there are players in those leagues that think they-re good enough and want to play A-League - so it-s a great chance for them to want to impress A-League coaches and hopefully move on from there.
“It gives players an opportunity to step up to the bigger leagues.”
What evens up these contests if the pre-season factor for Hyundai A-League teams, with the Mariners officially kicking off their pre-season next week.
For the Wolves they are in the middle of their IGA NSW NPL season though they currently sit ninth in the 12-team league after a 2-2 draw with Bonnyrigg.
But as we-ve seen around the world, league form can often have little bearing on Cup run.
And Arrarte is showing signs of turning around the Wolves around after a poor start cost coach Richard Lloyd his job in April.
“You-re not going to get an easy game in the FFA Cup. You-ll have to turn up on the day and if you don-t you-re likely to get beat,” added Rose.
“These guys will be super ready to play against A-League opposition and wanting to prove a point.
“They-ll get a real buzz out of it. It-s like an A-League game for them… it-s like their A-League grand final almost.
“We definitely won-t be taking it easy.
“Mossy [coach Phil Moss] won-t take it easy. He-ll study them and we-ll go in prepared enough to get the result we need.”
Ironically, Wolves know all about winning grand finals. Under their former guise Wollongong Wolves they won two grand finals at the turn of the new millennium in the NSL.
As for the Mariners they officially kick off their pre-season preparations next week, though some players have already begun this week.
Rose then departs for Foxtel A-League All Stars duty at the beginning of August with a camp in Wollongong ahead of the August 10 glamour match up with Juventus.
Then it-s back to the ‘Gong for the August 20 Westfield FFA Cup clash with the hometown Wolves.
“It refreshes the pre-season. It splits it up, two really big things to look forward to, the FFA Cup and the All Stars,” said the Queensland-born attacking defender, as he prepares for a busy off-season.
“And then before we know it, it-ll be round one of the A-League.”