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Warriors 'really excited'

Heidelberg United coach George 'Kat' Katsakis.

Heidelberg United are “looking forward” to a 3600km round trip to Wolter Park this week, says coach George Katsakis.

‘Kat’, one of Australia’s most successful club coaches, said his NPL Victoria squad watched the Round of 32 draw live and had fingers crossed for an away match.

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“We were looking forward to getting an away trip,” said Kat, who has coached Heidelberg’s top team for 16 years.

“When Moreton Bay United came out first … we were delighted to be the away team. We’re really excited about this tie.

“I’ve been in the NPL for some time and already knew of Moreton Bay United. I know that they have improved dramatically in recent times.

“We also have a few Queensland boys in our team who know a bit about the club.”

Kat admitted the 2023 NPL Victoria campaign had not gone to plan (currently sitting 10th) and his side lost 3-0 in the state’s Dockerty Cup Final on Friday against Oakleigh.

However, Heidelberg will bring glamour, history and a touch of the unknown to Wolter Park on Thursday, as the first Victorian side Jets have faced in competition.

Kat played for Heidelberg as a junior and senior and was called-up for the Young Socceroos squad, only to break a leg and lose his place.

His playing career never recovered, but coaching beckoned as an assistant with Heidelberg and then head coach on returning in 2007. He has since overseen more than 350 games.

Heidelberg United captain Adrian Zahra.

Captain is midfielder Adrian Zahra, 32, who played A-League for Melbourne Heart (now City) and Perth before joining Melbourne Knights, Port Melbourne and in 2016 Heidelberg.

Among the leading scorers is Sam Ellis, a Scot who joined in 2016 and is reported to now have 63 goals in 185 senior games for the club.

This is the fifth time since 2015 that Heidelberg has been in the Round of 32 – reaching the quarter-finals three times.

Heidelberg was formed in 1958 as Alexander The Great-Melbourne Soccer Club. Its NSL highlights include being runners-up in 1979, 1980 and NSL Cup winners 1992/93, 1996/97.

They won won the NPL Victoria Premiership in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2017 the Victorians were also National Champions, beating Brisbane Strikers 2-0 in the grand final.

Heidelberg’s official nickname is the Warriors, in reference to Alexander The Great. Unofficially, fans use Bergers (short for Heidelberg).

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