Mitchell Young previews the forthcoming cup clashes…
The University of East London football 1sts and 2nds are looking ahead to their Southern Eastern Conference Cup quarter-finals.
“I’m an optimist, I think we can get both teams into the semi-finals. Realistically, if we can get one team into the semis then both have had a decent Cup run,” said UEL football coach Yassain Abidou.
UEL 1sts, who host Portsmouth University 1sts at Beckton District Park on Wednesday, remain unbeaten so far this season with nine wins and only one draw. In the Cup so far they have scored 21 goals in the previous three rounds, including a 6-0 away win in the first round, a nail-biting 4-3 victory after extra-time and an 11-1 thrashing in the last round.
UEL will be reliant on their top goal scorer Johan Caney-Brown and will play an important role in the game with his prolific 19 goals in 10 games this season.
However, UEL 1sts will not be at full strength for their important tie.
“We’re nursing some injuries unfortunately. Stefan Wright has a groin strain and we have a few other niggles that we need to keep an eye on. These include Richie Robins (knee) and Nnamdi Harold-Egole (toe),” said Abidou.
UEL will also look to change their formation ahead of the Cup clash due to their last league outing ending in a 1-1 draw away to University of Essex 2nds: “We went 4-5-1 in our last game but I think we’ll revert to 4-4-1-1, how we usually play with a number 10 behind the striker.”
Abidou expressed how important a home tie is: “I think so. We like to think we can go anywhere and win, but having home advantage, less headache travelling around the South of the Country and more time to prepare should help.”
UEL 2nds will travel to Brighton University 2nds, top of division 2A seven leagues above UEL, and will go into the game as underdogs.
The 2nds have already shown that they can step up to the mark in the Cup, despite sitting bottom of the league, beating Greenwich University 1sts 3-1 in the previous round two divisions above UEL.
“The 2nds have a very tough game as Brighton are top and flying in their league. However, they’ve proven they can go and beat anyone so hopefully they can do the business,” added Abidou.
With both sides still in the Cup, they can still meet in the final. Despite Abidou’s optimism he felt an all-UEL final was a bit ambitious: “A little bit, but nothing is impossible.”