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Knockout to add punch to ACT season

Canberra's part-timers can begin dreaming about emulating the fairytale runs of their English counterparts and taking on the big boys in a new nationwide cup competition.

Football Federation Australia announced on Thursday the introduction of the FFA Cup from next year, a knockout competition pitting state league clubs against A-League heavyweights.

The tournament is based on England's FA Cup, which routinely throws up mouth-watering clashes between amateurs and some of the biggest clubs in the world.

The Australian version will initially consist of 32 teams, with plans to expand the competition.

Capital Football's own knockout tournament, the Federation Cup, will retain the same successful midweek format.

The winner will be Canberra's sole representative in the FFA Cup.


With Canberra having missed out on an A-League team, Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said it was important the region's elite players could be exposed to top-level football.

''It's another opportunity for our men's clubs,'' she said. ''We're working with the FFA to promote these additional opportunities, especially in the absence of an A-League or an NYL (National Youth League) team, entry is really important from our point of view.''

The announcement of the FFA Cup comes on the heels of a National Premier League play-off series featuring the best clubs from state-wide competitions. League champion Canberra FC has already booked its spot in September's quarter-finals with Football NSW title holders Sydney United.

Every A-League club, with the exception of the Wellington Phoenix, will enter the FFA Cup at the round-of-32 stage. Football NSW will field seven teams, Queensland and Victoria four each, with two from northern NSW and Western Australia, and one each from South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT. The final spot will be reserved for the winners of the NPL play-offs.

FFA chief executive David Gallop was confident commercial arrangements would be secured to ensure the cup went ahead.

"The idea of the FFA Cup has captured the imagination of the football community," Gallop said.

The inaugural FFA Cup final is scheduled for December next year.

Tuggeranong United proved the allure of cup competitions, the underdogs winning their first trophy in 19 years in defeating the Cooma Tigers 3-2 by the Federation Cup final on Wednesday night.