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City Group's Australian investment pays off as Melbourne City win FFA Cup

Thursday 1st December 2016
The veteran, Tim Cahill, was yet again the focal point of a Melbourne City win. This week the thirty-six-year-old secured his first Australian club honour by winning the FFA Cup with the city group side.

Given that professional football is still a relatively new concept in Australia; it's no wonder the Football Federation Australia Cup is still in its infancy. The 2016 tournament was only the third edition. Despite its lack of history, the competition is still considered the major cup in the country as it involves football teams from all levels of the Australian football pyramid.

The City Group took possession of Melbourne Heart and re-branded the club, Melbourne City back in 2014. The club's extensive history as the Heart never saw them contest any cup final or be in contention of winning the A-League. The City Group's investment has since changed that; the team are second in the league right now, only behind Sydney FC – the very team they played in the cup final.

Given the league table standings, the FFA Cup final didn't just mean winning the silverware – it was an opportunity to put one over on their closest league rivals. Melbourne City entered as the form team; winning their last two – whereas Sydney had only drawn theirs. The down-under Citizens also had another advantage, the Australian football association selected AAMI Park (MCFC's home ground) would be the venue for the final – due it's enormity, excellent facilities and proven track record of hosting large sporting events.
This was City's game to lose, given they had the deck seemingly stacked in their favour and Sydney FC having to circumnavigate an 876km trip to final's venue. There was also an element of grandeur for Tim Cahill, who was playing for his first Australian club honour.

Neither club nor player disappointed. The opening half was cagey from both sides, with neither breaking the deadlock. On-loan from Manchester City, Luke Brattan, however, managed to get himself booked in the first half and could have been considered lucky not to be sent off, as he continually got himself into trouble.

Come the second half, Melbourne started brightly and Cahill took matters into his own hands. Or as usual, his head. From a corner kick the ball was played back to Ivan Franjić who delivered a perfect searching ball for the Socceroo legend, Tim Cahill, to thump the ball in using his forehead in the 53rd minute. Throughout football, many things change, yet Cahill and his head are constant.
After the goal, there was little to write home about, Sydney FC looked deflated despite keeper, Danny Vuković keeping his side in it by making a plethora of saves – ensuring the deficit didn't double in size. The rest of his side in truth offered little going forward. That what they did, was trumped by former Danish international, Michael Jakobsen, who lets very little past him.

The final whistle blew and the Melbourne City contingent of fans and players went into ecstasy. The group's success is a testament to the City Group's investment. They've attracted the best Australian talent from other clubs, with a few international players, and with it will try to produce more exceptional players.
Extended highlights of the game.

The FFA Cup will be treasured as the club's first ever competition win; but given the conglomerate that the City Group is, they'll want the A-League too. They've got a psychological edge on Sydney FC now – Melbourne City will definitely be involved in the season endgame.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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