Archive for January 10th, 2011« Previous Entries
Sol Bamba buoyed by Leicester City FA Cup display
Leicester City defender Sol Bamba says his side can take great confidence from their 2-2 FA Cup draw with Premier League high-flyers Manchester City. …
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Leicester City defender Sol Bamba says his side will take great confidence from their 2-2 FA Cup draw against Manchester City.
New signing Sol Bamba made a huge impact on his Leicester City debut – but …
The Ivory Coast international was brought in by Sven-Goran Eriksson to strengthen the defence, but it was his threat in attack which caught the eye. …
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Leicester City Stand Point by David Bevan
In a breathless cup tie that brought back memories of other recent clashes with Premier League opposition at the Walkers Stadium, Leicester City battled …
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Roberto Mancini said Leicester City deserved their replay at Eastlands.
The Manchester City manager admitted his side had been taught a valuable lesson – not to underestimate lower- league opposition in the FA Cup.
He said his Premier League title-chasing side would learn their lessons from their 2-2 third-round draw at the Walkers Stadium.
Mancini’s men looked in control at half-time after strikes from James Milner and Carlos Tevez put them in front after they fell behind inside the first minute to Sol Bamba’s opener.
However, City produced a spirited second-half performance and were rewarded with Andy King’s equaliser, after a blunder by goalkeeper Joe Hart, and Mancini said they were pleased to get a second bite of the cherry.
“I think it is a good result for both teams,” he said.
“Leicester played very well and didn’t deserve to lose this game.
“For us, it was an important lesson because we now understand that, if we want to win the FA Cup, we must play at 100 per cent because every game is difficult.
“Maybe, when you play against a side that plays in the Championship or lower, you think it is easy. But in the FA Cup there is never an easy game.
“We want to have a good run in the FA Cup. It is important. We must play with the same focus on the game as we do in the Premier League.
“We conceded a goal after a minute and Leicester were on top for five minutes and it made it more difficult. We improved and scored twice, but we conceded from Joe’s mistake, but these things happen.”
Mancini said his side struggled to play on the Walkers pitch, and vowed the replay would be different at Eastlands a week on Wednesday.
“It was difficult because the pitch wasn’t very good to play football on but I think Leicester played very well because they pressed all over the pitch, so it was difficult for us to play,” he said.
“We had the chances to score but now we must win the replay. The Eastlands pitch is very different but we must pay attention.
“We had a lot of problems because Bamba is very tall and very good in the air.”
New signing Sol Bamba made a huge impact on his Leicester City debut – but probably not in the way everybody expected.
The Ivory Coast international was brought in by Sven-Goran Eriksson to strengthen the defence, but it was his threat in attack which caught the eye.
Within the first minute, Bamba had put his new side ahead after Bruno Berner had flicked on a free-kick. He had other chances to add to that but was, overall, well pleased with his performance against Premier League giants Manchester City.
“I can’t ask for any more on my debut,” he said. “We got a good result, I managed to score a goal and I am very happy.
“In fact it could have been more. I was surprised, I have played in Scotland for the past four-and-a-half years and never had so many chances as I did.”
As well as his goal, he was a constant threat at dead-ball situations and had a header cleared off the line in the second half. But it was the overall picture that pleased him.
“The main thing was the result and we deserved the draw and maybe could have gone on and won it,” he said.
“Everybody in the club is happy with the draw even though we could have won.”
This was Bamba’s first game in English football and was undaunted that it was against one of the country’s top teams.
“Manchester City put out a very good team so it was all credit to us that we came back from 2-1 down. All credit to the lads because we never gave up.
“The guys are really bubbling in the dressing room. To play like that against one of the best teams in the country proves we are capable of producing very good performances.”
Bamba has been in Leicester only a matter of days but is looking forward to the future. “I know we have a good team, I’ve already seen that in training where we pass the ball around really well,” said Bamba, who celebrates his 26th birthday on Thursday.
“We showed some really good character and we will now look to reproduce performances like that in the Championship.”
Bamba is now looking forward to a replay at Eastlands and sees no reason why City can’t beat the odds again.
“Why not?” he said. “It is always better to play a team like that at home but we have nothing to lose.”
“I’m not built for fairytales,” joked England cricketer Paul Collingwood after he had played his final Test match for England last week.
But it looks as though Sol Bamba is.
Leicester City’s latest recruit became one of the few players to score a goal with his first touch in his first game. And it took him less than a minute.
Sadly, however, there was not quite the fairytale ending that Sven-Goran Erikson’s men were hoping for with a pulsating match finishing all square at 2-2.
It was a shame in a way because the Foxes went desperately close to winning it.
But it was still one of City’s finest performances since Sven took over and, if they can continue this sort of form in the Championship, there is every chance they could be playing at Manchester City on a regular basis in the Premier League next season.
Ivory Coast international Bamba, signed from Hibernian, was simply sensational.
His performance must surely rank as one of the best debuts by a City player for many years.
Apart from the goal that he touched home in 45 seconds, the giant centre-back won just about every aerial challenge in both penalty areas, had two headers from corners saved by Joe Hart and saw another cleared off the line by James Milner.
He was immense in every sense of the word and Sven looks to have unearthed another excellent acquisition for the team.
But there were outstanding performances everywhere you looked in a match that would have been a credit to the Premier League.
Indeed, there was little difference in the quality of the two sides and a delighted Sven had every right to say City were equal to one of the top sides in the country and the most expensive ever assembled.
He is hoping to bring in more new signings before the transfer window closes and, if they can make anything like the impact Bamba did, City really can start to climb the Championship table.
This performance would have given them a huge confidence boost coming as it did against a strong Manchester City side clearly determined to make progress in the competition.
Some managers put out weakened teams over this third-round weekend, but Roberto Mancini and Erikson both gave the FA Cup the respect it deserves.
Mancini included most of his stars with Carlos Tevez, Joe Hart, Kolo Toure, Milner and Adam Johnson in the starting line-up. But the Foxes matched them man for man. It was a pulsating match – the best of the season played out in front of the biggest crowd of the season of more than 31,000.
Any first-timers will surely be champing at the bit to pay a return visit to the Walkers if they are going to be treated to football of this quality.
There is now the little matter of the replay, of course.
But don’t rule Leicester out of it on this showing.
They looked like a Premier League team. Perhaps, next season, they will be.
I’ve never quite understood why Kasabian’s ‘Underdog’ features in the pre-match music at the Walkers Stadium other than it is a rattling good tune from Leicester’s finest.
But, as the song blasted out ahead of yesterday’s third- round FA Cup tie against Manchester City, it did seem very fitting.
And City played the role almost to perfection. Almost, because they did not quite pull off the upset that beckoned when Sol Bamba’s first touch for his new club ended in the visitors’ net with less than a minute on the clock.
The ground erupted and the atmosphere that had been crackling, with a large contingent having travelled down the M6, suddenly hit fever-pitch.
More crosses into the Manchester area caused consternation for the defenders, who looked ill at ease with any high ball coming their way. “They look vulnerable from corners,” suggested one City fan, who felt there was more to come from his side if they could sustain the early momentum.
However, the warnings were also there down the right flank where Adam Johnson showed his quality and, as Manchester flexed their muscles in attack for the first time, there were some worried faces in the City ranks.
“They’re starting to turn the screw now,” warned another supporter – and his words were prophetic as James Milner drilled home an equaliser.
Still, Leicester did not back down and looked set to go into the break on level terms – the least they deserved – until Carlos Tevez had his one real say of the game on the stroke of half-time. Home fans might have been concerned that that was the signal for the Premier side to up the pace and set about killing off the tie.
But, for some, Roberto Mancini’s replacement of Shaun Wright-Phillips with Nigel de Jong at the start of the second half suggested otherwise.
“They’re trying to close things down,” was the view among home supporters – and Manchester clearly had that in mind as they set about passing the ball around confidently.
“Ole,” their fans cheered as the ball moved from one white shirt to another.
“Ole,” replied the City fans when Richie Wellens, Andy King and Yuki Abe responded in kind.
And it was Leicester who had the last “ole”, a howler from Joe Hart giving King the sort of chance he can only dream of to poach the simplest of equalisers.
More goals did look on the cards but none came, although the cheer from the City support when the final whistle went might have suggested they had already booked the short fourth-round trip to Notts County.
That is not quite the case, and some viewed the trip north to Eastlands with trepidation.
“We could get a real battering up there,” muttered one pessimistic Leicester fan.
Maybe, but it is more likely that, if City put in another performance like they did in the first game, they will push the Manchester millionaires all the way once again. And in cup football, who knows where that might lead to – just don’t mention penalties!« Previous Entries