FFA Cup: Duff to line up for Melbourne City against Sydney FC in Ballarat

Melbourne City recruit Damien Duff in Fulham colours in the EPL last season. Photo: Getty Images
Melbourne City recruit Damien Duff in Fulham colours in the EPL last season. Photo: Getty Images

Ireland international Damien Duff will make his first appearance for Melbourne City on Australian soil in Ballarat.

Fresh from a season with Fulham in the English Premier League, Duff will line up against Sydney FC in a Football Federation Australia Cup tie at Morshead Park on Tuesday, August 12.

Melbourne City joined with the City of Ballarat and State Government on Tuesday to confirm the fixture.

The round of 32 match will be the first outing of the now Manchester City-owned Melbourne City and Sydney FC in the inaugural FFA Cup.

Duff is one of two new marquee signings for Melbourne City - joining Spain's David Villa.

While Villa is taking a break after playing in Spain's unsuccessful World Cup defence in Brazil and not likely to arrive in Melbourne until much close to the start of the A-League season in October, Duff will fly to Australia after a Melbourne City training camp in England.

Duff has an outstanding soccer pedigree and will give the Ballarat sports community an opportunity to see a world class player in action on its patch.

The 35-year-old has played 100 internationals with Ireland, including the 2002 World Cup, during a decorated club career in England - 184 games with Blackburn Rovers (1996-2003), 81 with Chelsea (2003-06), 69 with Newcastle United (2006-09) and 119 with Fulham (2009-14).

As well as having the honour of captaining his country, Duff played in two EPL titles and a League Cup victory with Chelsea.

Manchester City's national youth league coach Joe Palatsides said the club would be throwing everything into the cup tie.

"(With the first trophy of the season on the line) everyone wants to win it.

"The expectations are high this season.

"We aiming for the championship.

"We'll want to set the tone here," Palatsides said at the announcement at the multi-million dollar Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility.

As well as wanting to stay alive in the knockout competition, the clash will also provide Melbourne City and Sydney FC with an opportunity for an early psychological advantage ahead of their meeting in the opening round of the A-league home and away season.

Melbourne City chief executive officer Scott Munn said the club's coaching staff had provided the impetus to play its FFA Cup opener in Ballarat.

He said head coach John van't Schip was so impressed with the playing surface in City's practice match against Ballarat Red Devils in June, once he saw the Cup tie was a home game for Melbourne he asked whether Ballarat was an option as the venue.

Munn said the playing surface was as good as any in Victoria.

He said the City of Ballarat could not have been more helpful in making it happen.

Munn said Melbourne City had an obligation to take the sport to regional Victoria.

He said it was not about making the city a membership hub for the club.

The CEO said taking games of this magnitude to a regional centre was a way of thanking supporters,

Ballarat mayor Cr Josh Morris said securing a FFA Cup fixture was exciting for the region.

"To see two A-League teams fighting it out right here in Ballarat is beyond our wildest expectations," Cr Morris said.

"I can't wait to welcome Melbourne City FC to Morshead Park, and I am certain that the town will turn out to support them."

As well as this tie, A-league team Melbourne Victory will play Ballarat Red Devils in a friendly at Morshead Park on Tuesday, August 26.

Ballarat will be training base for Bahrain in December-January ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup.


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