Two former New Zealand national league players face the prospect of blocking Wellington Phoenix hopes of FFA Cup glory.
Defender Scott Hilliar (27) and midfielder Mario Barcia (32) are key members of Victoria state club Avondale FC who face the Phoenix in the Round of 16 cup tie against the Phoenix on Tuesday December 14.
Avondale, relatively new to the state’s top-flight competitions, won Victoria’s Dockerty Cup on December 5 (see main photo), the first significant trophy won by the club.
The semi-professional side are now gearing up for their chance to upset the Phoenix and earn a place in the Australian-wide FFA Cup quarter-finals.
Barcia and Hilliar, who captains Avondale, fill the club’s quota of two non-Australians eligible to play for the club.
Both have played at high levels domestically in New Zealand.
Hilliar, who began his football journey as a six-year-old junior with Waikato’s Matamata Swifts, played senior football for Melville United and then at national league level for WaiBOP United, Waitakere United and Team Wellington.
Barcia left his native Argentine for Wellington’s Island Bay United in 2014, and had spells at Hawke’s Bay United and Team Wellington (twice).
The pair were teammates at Team Wellington, and were part of the squad that participated in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Hilliar has been based in Australia since 2019 while Barcia moved across the Tasman this year.
Scott Hilliar (left) and Mario Barcia celebrate victory in the Dockerty Cup.
We thank Matamata Swifts for providing much of the information in this story, and Avondale FC who were the source of the photographs.