The FFA Cup threw up one its most famous night's on Tuesday as APIA Leichhardt claimed the scalp of Melbourne Victory.
But while the Tigers’ famous win rightly stole the headlines, one of this year’s FFA Cup success stories was unfolding in Cairns as Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant made his long-awaited return from injury.
Grant suffered the second ACL injury of his career during a routine passing drill for Sydney FC in July 2017 and was sidelined for the entirety of the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League campaign.
A Sky Blues man through and through, his long road to rehabilitation came to an end in Sydney’s 2-1 comeback win over Cairns last night.
“It’s pretty rewarding, you go through a lot of rehab and a lot of hours and the majority of that is by yourself or just with the physio so it goes a bit unnoticed,” Grant told the official FFA Cup website.
“You definitely have your days where it’s a bit of a punisher and you question if you really need to be doing it when there’s no one around and no one watching.
“Then it becomes a mental battle with yourself. At the end of the day it’s not going to get any better without work so you just have to get on with it and do what you have to do and tick all the right boxes before you can push on.”
NPL Queensland outfit Cairns did their best to spoil the 27-year-old’s return when young forward Ryan Cavanah rifled a loose ball past Andrew Redmayne early on.
It was a strong test of character for Corica’s men, but one they eventually passed with flying colours.
The cup holders will return to the harbour city today with Grant’s comeback adding another feel-good element to the new Sydney era.
The versatile defender’s return might feel like a new signing for the Sky Blues, but the performance of Corica’s recruits for the new season were also highlights of the occasion.
Former Central Coast Mariners live-wire Trent Buhagiar found the net again for the Sky Blues, while new Dutch arrival Jop van der Linden also impressed.
“I think all the new boys have been great,” said Grant.
“There’s obviously a lot of talent but they’re pretty good fellas too which makes it a lot easier when it comes to gelling and getting to know each other.
“Trent’s going to be a great acquisition for us. He’s started the pre-season really well and he’s got that little bit of X-Factor with his speed and agility, so I’m excited to see what he can do this season.
“Jop looks great too – he hit the post two times last night so we’ve got another Dutch free kick specialist on our hands which will be handy for us!”