Rockdale City Suns Football Club have won 3 out of the 4 competition trophies in last weekends Maso Cup 2017 Tournament.
A proud tradition since 2008, the Maso Cup featured over 600 players over 4 divisions. Although some extremely hot weather hit Sydney over the weekend, the show had to go on. While there is a trophy for each division’s winner, the competition is more about pride.
Teams from across NSW and interstate all searching for the title of the best Macedonian-Australian football club prepare and plan all year for this annual tournament which is held on the Australia Day weekend. At the end of it there is always a competition winner but the bragging rights among the Macedonian Community which happens to linger on for a lot longer than just a weekend is what counts most if you ask the spectators.
This year the Maso Cup was held in Sydney, co-hosted by two of the largest Sydney-based National Premier League clubs, Rockdale City Suns FC and Bankstown City Lions FC. With 12 teams competing in this years’ tournament two of whom are newcomers to the Maso Cup family- first time Over 35’s team Sunshine Lions from Queensland and Lalor United Sloga from Victoria. There is also a new competition added this year and that is for the Under 19’s Youth.
Round 1 of the tournament kicked off on Friday evening at 6pm sharp with 3 matches held at both home grounds of the Hosts. At the Ilinden Sports Centre, 2 of Rockdale teams were scheduled to play. Rockdale City Suns FC’s Over 35’s managed to beat newcomers Sunshine Lions FC by 3 goals to 0 and the Maso Cup heavyweights and reigning Champions Rockdale’s 1st Grade held to a 1-1 draw by a spirited Yagoona Lions.
Saturday’s fixtures were held at Bankstown City Lions’ home ground at Jensen Park and additional ground at Potts Park to accommodate for the large competition. The first match on Saturday for the Suns 1st Grade team was against Preston Lions from Victoria with a final score of 1 – 0 win for the Suns, goal coming courtesy of new recruit Jordan Figon. The next qualifying match for Rockdale Suns 1st Grade side was scheduled for Sunday morning.
The newly created Maso Cup Under 19’s competition saw the young Suns beat Yagoona Lions at Potts Park in Bankstown, 4 goals to 1 and their second match of the day was against Wollongong United with the Rockdale boys winning 1 goal to 0. This meant that the Under 19’s Rockdale City Suns were through to the final, although they had one more qualifying match the following day against the other finalists, Bankstown City Lions U/19’s team.
For the Rockdale Suns Over 35’s team, the day started off quite shaky with a 0 – 0 draw against co-hosts Bankstown City Lions. The second match for the Over 35’s Suns also ended as a draw at 0 – 0 against Lalor United.
Just as it is a tradition to play football over 2 and a half days, it is also a tradition to have a Maso Cup Ball on the Saturday night. The Ball is open to the public as well as the participating clubs. This years’ Ball was held at The Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre with a full capacity attendance. A great night for all players, club officials and the public to mingle, dance and enjoy a few drinks in between.
Sunday, 29th of January was also Finals Day and all games were scheduled to be played at the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre and the training fields at Bicentennial Park. Starting off the day with an amazing breakfast served for all players and club officials at the Suns’ clubhouse, where all were getting ready to kickstart the big day.
The First match for the Rockdale City Suns was also the last match of the 1st Grade regular rounds between RCSFC and Newcastle Suns, scheduled very early in the morning. At half time, the Rockdale side managed to dominate the Newcastle team with a 2 – 0 lead. The confident Rockdale side came back on for the second half, hoping to hold on to the lead and make it through to the finals. A less confident Newcastle team let their guard down too many times during the second half which saw the Rockdale boys punish them each and every time. The final score of the final round robin game saw Rockdale defeating Newcastle Suns 5-0.
While on the other pitch at Bicentennial Park, just behind the main RCSFC Stadium, Rockdale’s Under 19’s side met with Bankstown City Lions and at the end of the full-time whistle, the Suns managed to secure a 3 – 0 win. Both teams were through to the Grand Final and would meet again in a few hours time to compete for the Championship of the inaugural Under 19’s competition.
The Quarter Finals were now set and the following 1st Grade teams were notified of the QF draw which saw all teams preparing the best they all could considering the short turnaround times given.
QF Draw for 1st Grade:
As the Quarter-finals kicked off, Rockdale City Suns, led by player-coach, Paul Reid, were fully aware that this now was the time to make sure no goals were conceded and star recruit, former A-League Keeper and winner of an Asian Champions League title, Ante Covic was the man to protect that goal area.
Ante joined Rockdale after returning from Perth, playing 28 matches for the Glory last season and a memorable stint at the Western Sydney Wanderers where Ante won an Asian Champions League title as well as being awarded the AFC Champions League Most Valuable Player.
With a great game plan in place, the Suns defeated the Victorian side, Sydenham Park by 2 goals to 0. The Suns had now secured a place in the Semi-finals.
Other team results for Quarter Finals;
Wollongong United V Cringilla Lions – 2 : 1 (Wollongong United going to Semi-Finals)
Bankstown City Lions V Altona Magic – 0 – 2 (Co-Hosts knocked out, Altona in Semi-Finals)
Preston Lions V Broadmeadow Magic – 1 – 1 (Preston Lions win on penalties)
It was now time for the Under 19’s Grand-final with RCSFC against Bankstown City Lions. A very dominant Suns outfit kept possession of the ball throughout most of the match which led them to a win over the Bankstown boys. Final Result: RCSFC 1 v Bankstown City 0. Rockdale City Suns Under 19’s were now the Champions of the inaugural Under 19’s competition in the Maso Cup 2017.
While the young under 19’s Champions were celebrating their win, Rockdale’s 1st Grade side kicked off their Semi-Finals against a very strong Wollongong United side. The Suns took the lead at half time with a goal ahead of the United side but the Wollongong boys tightened up during the second half to not allow any more into their net. Fortunately for the Suns, there were no goals scored by the tough United team leaving the score at 1 – 0 for Rockdale which meant the Suns were through to the Grand final.
Other team results for Semi-Final:
Preston Lions defeat Altona Magic 1 – 0. Preston Lions and Rockdale City Suns in the Grand Final.
In the over 35 competition, the Grand-final match between Rockdale and Arncliffe Scots got under way and Rockdale men had control of the game from the very start but still a very close score of 2 -1 when the half time whistle blew, for the Suns to just sit back and not give it their all. The Suns team managed and coached by Zoran Stefanoski and Jim Eleninovski, and skippered by legend Bill Pilovski, were way too strong for their competition with a fine tournament coming to a close with an 8-1 victory over the local rivals.
The RCSFC team had now won 2 of the 3 Men’s competition trophies on offer.
Meanwhile, Women’s GRAND FINAL WINNERS – Bankstown City Lions women’s team took out the Women’s Division in the 2017 Maso Cup with a 6-0 win over Altona Magic.
As the crowd took to their seats to watch the main event, the Grand Final between, Maso Cup Co-Hosts RCSFC from Sydney to take on Victorian side Preston Lions, in what was expected to be an action-packed game to round out the weekend. Both sides looked to take the spoils as they fancied their chances in this final encounter of the tournament.
This Grand Final was not going to be a walk in the park. The two clubs have a long and successful history as far as football goes and the former NSL club from Victoria was determined to take that Cup back to Preston away from the reigning Rockdale Champions. As the match kicked off the tension on the field and the stadium was intense. Crowds from Melbourne trying to drain out the very vocal Rockdale supporters and vice versa. With a number of opportunities from both sides and the end of the second half whistle, the score remained at 0 – 0 and the tensions grew even stronger.
The second half saw a more dominant Suns team managing to control the game when a great strike from 2016 player of the year, Blake Riciutto, saw the ball go into the back of the net, putting the Rockdale boys in the lead. After an intense hour of play, the final score was 1 – 0 for Rockdale City Suns. Another win for Rockdale City Suns making it 3 years in a row as the ‘Maso Cup’ Champions.
This is the 5th title for Rockdale including Maso Cup 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Two titles going to Altona Magic, while Bankstown City and Arncliffe Scots have one each.
RCSFC President Dennis Loether said, “At the end of the tournament, we were delighted to win the three divisions we competed in, being the under 19 youth competition, the men’s over 35 competition, and we won the first grade competition for the third year running. A remarkable achievement with games played in front of very healthy crowds at the Ilinden Sports Centre”.
Rockdale City Suns FC would like to acknowledge and thank the event partners, namely:
– FLIP TV for their excellent live broadcast of all fixtures. To sign up to Flip TV, go to their website www.fliptv.com.au
– Kingsford Smith Transport for transporting the traveling teams over the course of the weekend, a huge effort.
– Cityview Group for cleaning services.
– Marco Polo foods for donating prizes for the raffle at the Maso Cup Ball.
Finally, thank you to RCSFC’s hard working committee and volunteers for their tireless efforts over the weekend. It was a remarkable effort from all involved across the three days.
Maso Cup 2018 will be held in Victoria for the first time since its’ inception.
This will be the first time the national competition has been held outside of New South Wales and looks set to further expand the growing tournament. Further details of dates and venues will be announced later in the year.
For full details on results for the Maso Cup 2017, please visit the ‘Maso Cup’ Facebook page.