There is a reason why many believe there is a special type of magic to cup competitions.
Form, big name players and expectations can all be thrown out the window with a single bounce of the ball.
Sometimes It takes more than just being the best to win when everything is on the line.
Whether that is a lucky bounce or an unfortunate mistake from the opposition, knockout football can provide both heartbreak and jubilation.
This season’s finalists know very well all the highs and lows of the cup with their history adding extra spice to this already captivating matchup.
Twelve months on Hakoah Sydney City East and APIA Leichhardt Tigers return to Lambert Park for a rematch of epic proportions.
Underdogs Hakoah completed a historic fairytale in 2017 when they stunned APIA to secure a 3-1 victory to be crowned Waratah Cup champions and end the club’s long wait for silverware.
This time APIA won’t underestimate their opponents and will be more determined than ever to claim the title they last won in 2013.
The Tigers cruised to the finals scoring 25 goals in six games.
Billy McColl’s side opened their Waratah campaign in empathic style putting nine goals past NPL3 side Fraser Park in a 9-0 win before backing it up with a 4-0 in against Illawarra Premier League side Wollongong Olympic FC.
APIA were pushed by NPL 2 side St George FC but did enough to claim a 3-2 win to progress to the next round and a grudge match with National Premier Leagues NSW rivals Sydney Olympic.
McColl’s side were too good for the NPL NSW league leaders as they eased to a 3-0 win, but had a harder time in their next match as they delivered a second half fightback to snatch a 3-2 win against Rockdale City Suns.
A cup final berth was secured with relative ease as a Corey Bizco double helped APIA to a 3-0 win against Marconi in the Waratah Cup Semi-final.
Their opposition on Sunday returned this season as the reigning Waratah Cup champions.
Once the competition feel-good story, Hakoah has proven this season they are cup specialists.
The Eastern Suburbs based side has shown up their doubters this campaign with their strong form demonstrating last year’s fairytale run was not a fluke.
A 3-1 win against Canterbury Bankstown FC helped Hakoah off to a perfect start to their cup defence followed up with a 2-0 win against NPL NSW rivals Sutherland Sharks.
NPL 2 side Mounties Wanderers couldn’t stop the Gavin Rae coached side’s cup run as Hakoah claimed a 2-0 victory.
A comprehensive 4-0 win against Illawarra Premier League outfit Tarrawanna Blueys set up a Waratah Cup semi-final berth against Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
A three goal first half set the perfect platform for Hakoah against the White Eagles as Andre De Jong, Amaury Gauthier and Anthony Frangie all found the back of the net as the Eastern Suburbs qualified for their second straight Waratah Cup final with a 4-2 win.
Both sides have had relatively straightforward paths to reach the final but Sunday’s clash will be something new all together.
There will be plenty of feeling in this clash with the memory of last year’s final surely in the front of the minds of APIA and Hakoah.
Eyes will be firmly on same prize as history goes on the line at Lambert Park.
9-1 v Fraser Park (H)
4-0 Wollongong Olympic FC (A)
3-2 St George FC (H)
3-0 Sydney Olympic (A)
3-2 Rockdale City Suns (A)
3-0 Marconi Stallions (A)
3-1 Canterbury Bankstown FC (A)
2-0 Sutherland Sharks (A)
2-0 Mounties Wanderers FC (H)
4-0 Tarrawanna Blueys SC (A)
4-2 Bonnyrigg White Eagles (A)
Probable Starting Line-Ups:
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: I Necevski, J Symons, N Millgate, C Biczo, H Fondyke, J Murray, S Symons, B Lundy, T Muata-Marlow, T Sekiya, A Ucchino
Hakoah Sydney City East: A Bouzanis, M Kouta, M Stamatellis, C Draper, H Jones, A Frangie, O Green, D Cox, J Combes, A Gauthier, T Noji