Piscioneri and Campbelltown City eyeing the missing trophy in their decade-long collection
Over the past decade, Campbelltown City has been one of the standard-setting sides in South Australia's NPL competition. Red Devils midfielder Adam Piscioneri spoke to Front Page Football in the lead-up to his side's Federation Cup Final clash against MetroStars as Campbelltown looks to add the piece of silverware that has eluded them throughout their years of domination.
Adam Piscioneri in action against fellow Federation Cup Finalist MetroStars in the 2023 NPL SA season. (Ken Carter)
Since Campbelltown City won the 2013 NPL SA Championship, they have been expected to continue collecting such honours. The Red Devils have been one of South Australia's premier sides in winning silverware over the past decade, with two premierships, five championships, and even one national NPL championship. But one trophy has evaded the Newton-based juggernaut.
The last time Campbelltown reached the Federation Cup Final was in 2009. That was long enough, and to find the last time they were victorious on the big day, you have to go back to 1994 when the Red Devils downed Salisbury United 3-0.
Midfielder Adam Piscioneri has been an essential part of Campbelltown's senior squad during the club's dominant last decade. But he has never appeared in a Federation Cup Final.
"We haven’t won the cup since I’ve been around. It is the 60th year anniversary of the club, but in the last ten years, we haven’t made a cup final. That is something we want to achieve, and now there is an opportunity for us to do that. We absolutely want to make the most of it, just like every competition we enter," the midfielder shared with FPF.
Trying to explain why his near-all-conquering side has not managed to appear in a Federation Cup Final in the past decade, Piscioneri spoke about how the group's obsessive chase for league championships has often come at the expense of competitions like the Federation Cup. With a deeper squad and increased attention placed on fitness over the off-season, Piscioneri believes his side entered 2023 perfectly placed both physically and mentally to challenge for all available silverware.
"Doing that (three consecutive league titles from 2018 to 2020) takes a lot out of you physically, but you need to be strong mentally as well; that’s why you often find that being in multiple competitions, and the focus is the championship, [it] can affect those other competitions. This year we started really well, and we’ve tried to have that strong mentality throughout to ensure we go far in all competitions," Piscioneri added.
In Saturday's decider, fellow North Eastern powerhouse the MetroStars will meet Campbelltown. Danny Graystone's side has only lost twice in 2023.
MetroStars' blistering form and James Temelkovski's prolificacy are just some of the concerns for Campbelltown. But they have also lost their last five encounters against their North East neighbours. Two defeats have come this season, with the streak stretching back to 2021.
Piscioneri admits he has been impressed by Danny Graystone's overhauled MetroStars side but believes Campbelltown's best is good enough to overcome them. MetroStars midfielder Fabian Barbiero told Front Page Football that his side's recent winning streak against Campbelltown may give them a mental edge. But Piscioneri insisted that his side is not concerned about the record and they are simply looking forward to the next game.
"I don’t really look back; we always look towards the next game. We never take those historical games as something to expect coming into a match; we always look forward to the next game and how we can improve heading into it," Piscioneri said.
"I wasn’t aware of that record, but it is something we don’t think about. We know our best is good enough, and that is what we will work to achieve."
Piscioneri believes Campbelltown must play their game and make the MetroStars uncomfortable to give themselves the best shot at victory. Should the Red Devils disrupt their fancied opponents, they have enough big-game experience and firepower to seal the club's first Federation Cup in 29 years.
"What has always worked best is to press high and make sure Metro is not allowed time on the ball; giving their players time on the ball is not what we want. We want to press high and put them under the pump. On our side, we want to play the ball with confidence and play it forward to give the best opportunity for our goal scorers like Marc Marino and Antoni Trimboli to put the ball in the back of the net," Piscioneri said.
"Mentally, you go into a cup final like any other game. We have been through it before with all the finals we have played in over the past ten years. We know what to do, we know what to expect, and we will be ready."
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Adam Piscioneri and his Campbelltown City teammates celebrate a third consecutive championship in 2020. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)
For most sides, a couple of years appearing in the Finals Series without a trophy would not raise eyebrows. But for Campbelltown, there is a sense of being overdue for silverware after last bringing a trophy home at the end of the 2020 season.
"As you can see from our results this year, we are ready to get back on the winning list when it comes to these major honours. We are always around the mark, but we want to be number one," Piscioneri stated.
After winning every trophy available in South Australia multiple times, apart from the Federation Cup, the midfielder and his teammates are ready to add the missing trophy to their collection. Piscioneri knows how much it would mean to the community.
"In the last ten years, I guess that (the Federation Cup) is the one that is missing. Over Campbelltown’s history, the club had not won much before 2013, so we want to win it," he said.
"We want the cup; we will go there to win and do the best we can. It is something that Campbelltown will cherish; the players will cherish it; it is a life-long memory when you win these finals."
Having been involved with the club since he was five years old, Piscioneri can view the on-field success from the perspective of other club stakeholders who have put their time and effort into this project. The midfielder shared that the closeness of the individuals that have stuck together during the decade-long, success-laden journey is why Campbelltown remain a powerhouse competing for silverware all these years later.
"We know how much it means to our club members, to our committee members, to our Chairman Don Leombruno, and even our volunteers. A lot of what we do is for those types of people; we know how much it means to everyone involved. But even for the players, I have been involved at Campbelltown since I was five, same as Marc Marino. We love the club and always want to see it succeed," Piscioneri said.
"That is the good thing about Campbelltown; the core group is on the same wavelength; we all want to succeed, we all want to win, and that is important because, at the end of the day, we all want to achieve great things for this club."
Campbelltown City will attempt to break their hoodoo against the MetroStars this Saturday afternoon and add the final piece to the trophy puzzle assembled over the past decade with a Federation Cup.
Want to read more about the 2023 Federation Cup Final? Click here to read our interview with MetroStars midfielder Fabian Barbiero!