Caloundra aiming for FFA Cup upset
CALOUNDRA FC has 90 minutes to do the impossible.
The Sunshine Coast side will travel to the Gold Coast tonight hoping to score an upset for the ages and claim a spot in the nationwide FFA Cup.
The reward is potentially hosting an A-League side, but before Caloundra plans for the big stage it must do what no other Queensland team has pulled off: beat Palm Beach.
"Everyone expects it to be a whitewash," Caloundra coach Richard Hudson (pictured) said. "Nobody outside the playing group and the management are expecting a result, but there's big belief in our group.
"We believe we can do it."
Palm Beach has been a wrecking crew in the Queensland division of the National Premier League, scoring 46 goals and conceding only eight during its 14-game unbeaten streak, but Caloundra keeper Dale Hill believes the side is beatable.
"They've got a lot of weapons," he said. "But it's 11 v 11 once you get on the park and they are only human - it's not like they're robots.
"We'll have a plan to stop them and we'll be able to follow it."
Caloundra has already beaten one NPL opponent - the Sunshine Coast Fire in a penalty shootout in an epic zone final at Stockland Stadium - but Palm Beach's 4-0 win over the Fire a fortnight ago proves its is a class above the Kawana-based outfit.
"They're a quality side right through," Hudson said.
"They've got very talented players in every position and they are playing in elite competition every week.
"BUT they probably haven't played a team like us.
"We have a plan and they would not have played anything like it."
Tonight's winner will become one of four Queensland teams in the FFA Cup's round of 32, which includes the 10 A-League clubs.
Brisbane-based NPL clubs the Strikers and Olympic FC have already qualified.
The FNQ Heat, also in the NPL, is playing a lower-league club tonight to decide the north's representative.
Hudson said his team was drawing inspiration from the English FA Cup's long history of lower league teams causing upsets.
"It happens and we've put different plans in place that will help us structurally counter what they do," Hudson said.
"I've been to watch them, I've seen them on disc and ... the players have seen them, so we know what we're up against."
CALOUNDRA V PALM BEACH
Tonight, Gold Coast, 5pm