First of all, stick with us here, it could get a little complicated as we attempt to explain Queensland’s path to the FFA Cup.
Queensland will have four qualifying spots essentially broken up into:
- Brisbane (two spots);
- Northern Queensland (one spot); and
- Southern Queensland (one spot).
Let’s get the easy qualification method out of the way first, Brisbane. The Canale Travel Cup, run by Football Brisbane, will act as the mechanism to determine the two Brisbane spots. This competition includes the Capital 1 to 4 teams (the tiers below the Brisbane Premier League), the twelve Brisbane Premier League clubs and the six National Premier Leagues clubs based in the Football Brisbane zone (Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, Western Pride, Moreton Bay, Olympic and Redlands).
This Cup starts in the second week of February with the lower division Capital clubs kicking off the action. Progressively, the clubs in the higher tiers will enter with the Brisbane Premier League clubs entering in round four and the National Premier Leagues clubs at round five, the round of sixteen stage.
Quarter-finals and semi-finals will make up the next stages and not only will the two semi-finalists play off in the Canale Travel Cup Grand Final, they will also be the teams who qualify for the FFA Cup. The Brisbane semi-finals are scheduled for the last week of May.
Now off to the regions. As outlined above, they can be thought of as Northern and Southern Queensland.
Northern Queensland will consist of the following zones:
- Far North Queensland
- North Queensland
- Mackay Regional Football
- Central Queensland
Southern Queensland zones are:
- Wide Bay
- Sunshine Coast
- South-West Queensland
- Gold Coast
Each zone will have a zone knockout competition from which a zone winner is determined. The exception to this is the Gold Coast zone who have determined that last year’s Premier League winners, Murwillumbah will represent the zone. Each zone winner will then play the National Premier Leagues club based in their zone. As Mackay and Wide Bay do not have a NPL club based in their zone, the zone winner effectively has a bye through this round.
This round will therefore be:
- Far North Queensland zone winner vs FNQ Heat (match 1)
- North Queensland zone winner vs Northern Fury (match 2)
- Mackay Regional Football winner vs BYE (match 3)
- Central Queensland zone winner vs CQFC Energy (match 4)
- Wide Bay zone winner vs BYE (match 5)
- Sunshine Coast zone winner vs Sunshine Coast Fire (match 6)
- South-West Queensland zone winner vs SWQ Thunder (match 7)
- Murwillumbah vs Palm Beach Sharks (match 8)
Still with us? OK, well the next round features inter-zone play where the match-ups will be:
- Match 9 – Winner match 1 (FNQ) vs Winner match 2 (NQ)
- Match 10 – Mackay Regional Football winner vs Winner match 4 (CQ)
- Match 11 – Wide Bay zone winner vs Winner match 6 (Sunshine Coast)
- Match 12 – Winner match 7 (SWQ) vs Winner match 8 (GC)
The final round is where it all happens as it decides the two teams that will progress to the FFA Cup.
- Winner match 9 vs Winner match 10
- Winner match 11 vs Winner match 12
The two winners of these matches will claim the two other Queensland FFA Cup spots. It is expected that these matches will occur around the same time that the two Brisbane qualifiers are decided.
What will be curious is how inter-zone matches will be scheduled. With the likelihood of NPL teams making it through to these rounds and no spare weekends factored into this year’s NPL draw, will regional clubs be expected to undertake midweek travel? Will NPL matches be rescheduled? Will NPL sides be expected to play two matches on a weekend? Time will tell but they seem to be major issues considering the qualifying sides for the FFA Cup need to be determined within a set deadline.
It also needs to be noted that as an NPL club, Brisbane Roar will not compete in this competition as A-League clubs automatically qualify for the FFA Cup. Harimau Muda is ineligible for participation in the FFA Cup and therefore will also not compete.
The zonal draws that have been published are on our FFA Cup page and we’ll continue to add to those once other zones have confirmed their qualifying rounds. Of course, we’ll also keep you updated with the Cup action from around the state.
Source: Football Queensland and Football Brisbane.