Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Oleksandr Zinchenko reveals what winning the FA Cup would mean to him

Manchester City's Ukrainian defender says playing at Wembley a 'special' occasion as Pep Guardiola's side chase historic English treble when they take on Watford on Saturday

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola embraces Oleksandr Zinchenko as they celebrate winning the Premier League on Sunday. Getty Images
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola embraces Oleksandr Zinchenko as they celebrate winning the Premier League on Sunday. Getty Images

Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko has described the chance to play in Saturday's FA Cup final as a "dream" and says winning it is just as important as being crowned Premier League champions.

Having seen off Liverpool's challenge to retain the Premier League title on Sunday, Pep Guardiola's side now have the chance to create more history this weekend.

Should City beat Watford in Saturday's Wembley showpiece they will become the first English team to win a domestic treble of league and both cup competitions having also collected the League Cup trophy in February.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be honest, to play at that stadium, in the final and to go to fight for a title," Zinchenko said. "A final is always special, and we can’t wait for that."

The 22-year-old Ukraine international could be in line for a starting berth after proving a more than capable understudy for first-choice left-back Benjamin Mendy, who has endured another injury-hit campaign.

The Frenchman started the semi-final against Brighton & Hove Albion last month but Zinchenko was preferred for the title run-in as City put together a 14-match win streak to pip Liverpool by a single point.

Should Zinchenko, who joined City from Ufa in his homeland in 2016, get the nod it would help him fulfill a life-long dream.

"For me, when I was younger, the cup was just as important as the Premier League," he said. "I don’t know how other players think about it but for me it’s like this. I would dream of playing at a high level, I didn’t realise that I would be here and getting ready for an FA Cup final. It’s a dream.”

Adding an FA Cup winner's medal to his collection would cap what has undoubtedly been a breakout season for Zinchenko, whose attitude and perseverance has impressed the City coaching staff.


Manchester City celebrate title with fans at Etihad Stadium


After an underwhelming 2016/17 season spent on loan at PSV Eindhoven, Zinchenko returned to City the following campaign but was often overlooked in favour of Fabian Delph when Mendy suffered a long-term knee injury.

He reportedly turned down a move to promoted club Wolves at the start of the current campaign and in February he starred as City destroyed Chelsea 6-0 in the league, contributing two assists, and then put in an accomplished performance in the League Cup final as City prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.

Zinchenko was the only City player to feature in every round of that League Cup success, and said the chance to play another final at Wembley would be yet another career highlight.

“It’s a special stadium with a special atmosphere," he said. "I’ve played there against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final and the atmosphere was incredible. The stadium is special no matter who you are playing against."


Manchester City squad ratings


City head into the match as heavy favourites against a Watford side that finished 11th in the Premier League and a whopping 48 points behind Guardiola's champions.

City are five-time winners of England's oldest cup competition, with their most recent success coming in 2011, while Watford lost their only cup final appearance, in 1984 against Everton.

Zinchenko, who has 21 caps for Ukraine, is not underestimating Javi Gracia's side, and said it was up to City to show one last time why they are England's dominant team this season.

"Watford have very good players, especially up top. Their manager and the way they play, I like it," he said.

"It’s going to be tough against them, I’m sure of that. But I think every single game, our target is to show everyone who we are.”

Updated: May 16, 2019 01:11 PM



Editor's Picks