Branko Culina and sons Jason and Dean are planning on snaring league and Cup success with little known Fraser Park FC this season.
The former A-League coach and his two sons are in charge of the NPL NSW 3 club which has made an unbeaten start to the year.
Fraser Park sits in second place on the ladder, two points behind leaders Rydalmere Lions, with eight victories and two draws from 10 matches.
But it is in the FFA Cup that the club from Sydney’s inner west is making waves and eyeing a spot in the round of 32.
Fraser Park are into the sixth round of the competition after upsetting NPL 2 club Spirit 1-0 and then NPL 1 outfit Sutherland Sharks 4-1.
They face Kemblawarra Fury on Wednesday May 24 with a place in the seventh round up for grabs.
Culina said the Marrickville-based club has been working hard since pre-season on achieving in both competitions.
“We set out a plan at the start of the season and our goal was to win the league and do well in the FFA Cup, which I’ll be honest, the aim was always to get to the 32,” Branko told FourFourTwo.
“We wanted to do what very few, if any, clubs have done at that level before. And when the draw came out we said it’s not going to be easy as we were drawn in groups with clubs above us.
“Unfortunately we also had to play all the games away from home. But so far it’s been good, probably the most prominent win was in the last round when we beat Sutherland 4-1 at their ground. That made a few people sit up and take note.
“But we knew we could do it, we prepared for it a while back and we’ve been training since November for this as well as making sure we win the league. It’s no accident, it’s all been planned.
"We’ve been working hard and sometimes you make your own luck and we’re hoping we can do that.”
Culina took over as first-grade coach at Fraser Park last year after three years with Rockdale City Suns. Former Olyroo Dean and ex-Socceroos midfielder Jason are serving as his assistants and also as coaches of the club’s Under-20s side.
Fraser Park were relegated from the NPL NSW 2 competition last year, despite finishing 11th out of 14 teams, because of the combined results of its Under-20s and Under-18s.
“We need to make sure that all the senior grades are doing well,” the 59-year old said.
“The job was to do both, the 20s and the first-team, the three of us. The 20s and the first-team train together, the only difference is on match day we separate them. But the three of us are coaching both teams.
“It’s a lot of hard work because you’re dealing with 40 players and you need to balance it. At the moment we’re doing OK in both grades but it’s a long season.”
Fraser Park has history with Kemblawarra Fury after playing them in January in the pre-season Portuguese Cup final. Culina is expecting a difficult match next week against the Illawarra Premier League team in the FFA Cup tie.
“We actually played against them in a pre-season Portuguese Cup,” he said.
“But it was early stages for them, we were already in training and they only started a week or two earlier. We won convincingly but it was only a reduced match, 20 or 30 minutes each way. They’ve got some decent players of note, Alvin Ceccoli who played with the Wolves and Sydney FC.
"The football in Illawarra is quite good. It won’t be an easy game. But we’d like to think we’ll be ready whoever we have to face in the next couple of rounds.”
Culina admits it would be a “dream” for Fraser Park to reach the last 32 where the A-League clubs join the competition.
“If we are going to be good enough to get to the 32 it would be a dream, it doesn’t matter who we play, it will be just something that will give the club a big lift and put them on the map at least for a little while,” he said.
“And that’s what the FFA Cup has been about, giving opportunity to little clubs. If we can get to that round of 32 it might just whet the club’s appetite for bigger and better things.”