Will an NPL team make the FFA Cup final in the next decade?

The question was posed by the Daily Football Show yesterday, the post/audio can be found here.

Beaker claimed at least one NPL team will make the final within the next decade whereas Van Aken and Frooch claimed that it won’t happen.

I think this is an important question to consider, as there are multiple factors that could determine whether or not an NPL team could make the grand final.

Firstly, in favour of the teams is the draw set up that guarantees at least one NPL team will make the semi final. In this years edition of the up, gold Coast City and South Melbourne will be facing off in the quarter final to determine who will make the semi to potentially play an A-League club.

Of course we could have had a guaranteed team in the finals this year if Heidelberg defeated Adelaide and Blacktown defeat Western Sydney Wanderers. We could still see a guaranteed team through if Blacktown upset the Wanderers then draw the winner of the all NPL game in the semis.

Another factor that plays into the NPL teams favour in the early rounds, is that the NPL teams are in the middle to end of their season and in peak form, compared to the A-League teams that are early in their preseason.

As we saw, Heidelberg defeated Perth Glory and Blacktown City defeated Central Coast Mariners in this years edition in the round of 32.

However moving into the later stages, the A-League clubs are later into their preseason whilst the NPL teams have finals to deal with. Heidelberg played a 120 minute grand final on the weekend, then had to back up in the cup on the Wednesday, and then have to play in the NPL finals on the weekend. For a semi-pro team, it’s a lot of work compared to what the professionals are used to.

Another point against the NPL clubs is the fact that they are all semi-professional. Meaning that often they will train a few nights per week after work, then play on the weekends compared to A-League clubs who train hard 5 days a week, then play their game. In saying that, the clubs are becoming more professional, putting more work into training and developing their players.

NPL teams should be afforded more concessions in the cup, such as rescheduling games in the later rounds of the competition. For example Heidelberg could have been played next week due to their grand final and NPL finals.

So, will an NPL club make the grand final in the next decade? I think they can do it in the next 5 years. Especially if we see more upsets in the round of 32 and round of 16.

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