'We are both in the same boat' is the motto Tigers FC have embraced as they stare down the barrel of an early November date for their FFA Cup return, some three months after their last match.
Player movements in preparation for the 2022 NPL season, in addition to the lockdown, are making matters harder for the Cooma side, and other round of 32 sides, with an exact date yet to be set - although an early window in November is being prepped - against Sydney club APIA Leichhardt.
Tigers coach Ryan Grogan said it had been difficult to try and keep his premiership winning team up to match fitness.
"COVID really butchered everything to be honest," he said.
"We're in that situation where we're just trying to tick over and make sure that people aren't sitting around doing nothing because the reality is we don't even have a set date.
"We've reverted back to the same sort of stuff we were doing last year doing lockdown. It's been a little bit difficult. They've got their own conditioning programs to do, which is individual ball work and some running conditioning. But, again, that doesn't compare to normal training, it doesn't compare to game preparation."
Football Australia wants to guarantee two weeks training before fixtures involving teams in lockdown are played, but is up against a late December deadline to crown the FFA Cup winners in time for the AFC Champions League.
The finals series recommenced after delays on September 14, some 692 days since the 2019 FFA Cup final, but the Canberra side has been left in limbo due to the ACT and Sydney's extended lockdown.
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The round of 32 was due to get underway in late July and August, before the delta-strain outbreak in Sydney, and later across Australia, forced the competition's postponement.
It is anticipated Cooma's match against Leichhardt at Deakin Stadium will commence in early November, subject to COVID-19 regulations.
If so, the side will have not played a match since August but Grogan said the Tigers were in the same boat as APIA.
"The boys are really amped up about the FFA Cup, but the reality is when we get back on the park, whenever that is ... then they will have not touched the ball as a group for what, three months? It is difficult, but at the same time Leichhardt are in the same scenario, they've been locked down for longer than us," he said.
"The other challenge with it all as well is that because this is the off-season, there are a couple of players in my squad that will be leaving.
"They are hanging around for the FFA Cup before they move on to their new clubs, but I don't know if that's the case for some of the other clubs that are still in the Cup. So Leichhardt may be fielding a different team to the one that got them there."
AT A GLANCE
Tigers FC run to round of 32:
- Round 1: Tigers def Gungahlin United FC 3-0
- Round 2: Tigers def Weston Molonglo 6-0
- Round 3: Tigers def Yoogali SC 1-0
- Regional final: Tigers def Monaro Panthers 5-2
- Round of 32: Tigers vs APIA Leichhardt TBD