Fire expects to topple Swans

THE Sunshine Coast Fire will be desperate not to have their pants pulled down by a local club for the second year in a row when they face Maroochydore today in the Macron Cup.

Last year the Fire was embarrassed by local outfit Caloundra in a zone final of the FFA Cup in front of a packed house at Sunshine Coast Stadium, beaten in a penalty shootout.

With that loss cutting the club deep, the Fire will be doing all they can to avoid having another black mark against their names after today's clash with Maroochydore in Brisbane.

Sunshine Coast Fire coach Paul Arnison acknowledged Maroochydore - one of the best clubs in the Sunshine Coast competition in the past decade - would provide decent opposition, but said toppling the Swans in the first round should not pose too much of a problem

"I think it will be a tough test - Maroochydore are a good local league side - but if we play to the ability shown in training we should come out on top," Arnison said.

"We are looking forward to the competition and can't wait to get started in our first game."

It is the Fire's first game of 2015 and gives Arnison a chance to see where his side is ahead of their opening National Premier Leagues (Queensland) match against Brisbane City on March 1.

He said he was particularly excited about playing other NPL sides over the coming weeks in the Macron Cup.

"It allows us to test ourselves against quality opposition and refine our team ahead of the 2015 season," he said.

The Fire finished eighth in the NPL last year and missed the finals for the first time.

However, last year's squad was mostly made up of teenagers after former coach Kevin A'Herne-Evans let several experienced players go at the end of 2013.

The results were disappointing, but those youngsters should be better for the experience and benefit from the influx of former Fire players returning to the club.

The Macron Cup starts today and runs until February 14. The Fire will compete against NPL clubs Olympic, Palm Beach and Moreton Bay, and Brisbane Premier League clubs Mitchelton, Wolves FC and Peninsular Power, aside from the Maroochydore clash.


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