FRATERNITY CLUB CUP
Semi-final matches to be played tonight:
•Tarrawanna v Port Kembla at JJ Kelly Park (8.15pm)
•South Coast United v Woonona at Terry Reserve (8.15pm)
Rob Bemi must be getting sick of the sight of Michael Garcia on the opposition bench.
The pair met with almost clockwork regularity at the business end of the 2012 season - and they can't seem to avoid each other in the early stages of 2013.
"We had a few games against each other towards the back-end of last year," Bemi joked.
The clashes included a two-leg promotion play-off between Bemi's Woonona and Garcia's Wests Illawarra, which the latter won after erasing a one-goal first-leg deficit.
The Sharks exacted some revenge after toppling the Devils en route to District League grand final glory, but the pair have again crossed paths.
Garcia has since vacated his post at Unanderra Oval to return to Illawarra Premier League outfit South Coast United as head coach after Wests Illawarra knocked back the chance to apply for top-flight status.
Woonona jumped at the chance and now the two clipboard-carriers have the chance to get a step closer to silverware when they meet in the semis of the Fraternity Club Cup at Terry Park tonight.
Familiarity should be a given as the sides were pitted against each other in the round-robin stage, with South Coast United emerging as section leaders and Woonona advancing via the "lucky losers" draw.
"Defensively they're very organised and very good at counter-attacking," Bemi said. "That's how they got their second goal against us [in the group stage]. We all went forward looking for a winner and they hit us on the counter and we ended up losing that one."
If Woonona were looking for inspiration on what a recently promoted side can achieve in the annual pre-season tournament, they need look no further than Coniston.
The Lions, against all odds, advanced to the grand final last year only months after sealing promotion to the IPL.
But Bemi said Woonona were still adjusting to life against the big boys.
"I think the hardest part is them getting used to the fact they're actually in Premier League now," he said.
"It's a big change and a big difference to what they're used to, but I think they'll adapt. It's a very young side we've got at the moment so a lot of them haven't seen this football at this level. I think they're warming to the challenge at the moment."
Port Kembla and Tarrawanna will battle for the other spot in the Fraternity Club Cup grand final, which will be played on Sunday.