Who will stand up in the absence of our Socceroos?

Following the triple call-up of Melbourne City forwards Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout to the Socceroos’ squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Patrick Kisnorbo will need to look elsewhere in his squad to fill the void left by the veteran strike force.

When a similar situation occurred ahead of the 2020/21 A-League Men’s Finals series, it was young trio Marco Tilio, Stefan Colakovski and Nathaniel Atkinson who stepped into City’s front three with lethal effect.

Tilio and Colakovski put Macarthur FC to the sword in the semi-final, nabbing a goal each in quick succession to steal the game away from their opponents who’d threatened to find the back of the net earlier in the contest.

In City’s unforgettable Grand Final performance, it was Nathaniel Atkinson who struck first for the home side, dragging his team back into the encounter following an early Sydney FC goal. Providing the ball to Atkinson for that incredible finish was Colakovski again, who played a pivotal role in delivering a first men’s Championship to his boyhood club.

Aside from these three exciting youngsters, City’s Cup clash could be an opportunity for new signing Manuel Pucciarelli to put on an attacking display for the fans, with the Italian capable of playing as a striker or winger if not used in a midfield capacity. With the 30-year-old’s technical capabilities, he could combine well with any of the aforementioned youngsters and exploit the space created by their rapid off-ball movement.

From midfield, the likes of Connor Metcalfe and Florin Berenguer could be relied on to present additional goalscoring threat. Both are adept at linking up play in the final third and arriving late to finish attacking moves, with the pair combining for six goals in 2020/21.

Finally, the FFA Cup’s popularity as a platform for younger players to shine may bode well for the likes of Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Max Caputo. The pair were prolific for City in the club’s 2021 NPL 3 campaign, combining for 17 goals from the team’s 14 games played. A senior competitive appearance against tough opposition would serve to further progress their development, with City in return able to depend upon their attacking threat to break the deadlock against a defensively solid South Melbourne outfit.