Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton wants his players to seize the occasion when they face Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals tomorrow afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
The Seagulls take on the reigning Premier League champions in the final four, and the boss emphasised that the chance to compete in this stage of the historic competition is one not afforded to many in the game.
He said, “It’s a big opportunity for everyone here at the football club, but it’s not been difficult for me to separate the league and cup, because we know how important the Premier League is.
“One thing we’ve always stressed to the players throughout the competition is that there are a lot of good players who have never had the opportunity to get to a final of this competition, or even a semi-final.
“They’ve got to make the most of it and put in a performance that they can be proud of - the occasion will take care of itself, we certainly won’t have to motivate anybody to run harder or play as well as they can on the afternoon.
“We have to deal with their quality, that’s our biggest task - we have to give everything, irrespective of the result, and to be able to come away proud of the performance by the team.
Pep Guardiola’s men are chasing the quadruple, having already defeated Chelsea at tomorrow’s venue to lift the Carabao Cup back in February – as well as competing for the league title and facing Tottenham Hotspur in the last eight of the Champions League on Tuesday night.
“The opposition are strong, and we know that – they’re one of the strongest sides in Europe at the moment,” Hughton continued.
“They made seven changes on Wednesday evening [against Cardiff City] and still had plenty of shots at goal and a lot of possession, that’s the challenge for us.
“They have an array of players who are top players, they’re a very fit and motivated side – that shows by the fact they’re going for all four trophies.”
The Albion manager also reserved special praise for the club’s supporters, with more than 30,000 making the journey to the capital for the second time in four days to support the Seagulls.
“The fans have been outstanding, and they were again on Wednesday evening against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“I think they appreciate how difficult tasks like these are, and I think they appreciated we were in the game.
“Whatever the result on Saturday I know they’ll be exactly the same – it’s an appreciation of a team and a group of players who have reached this stage.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen too often for a club like ourselves and I know they’ll make the most of it no matter what the result will be.”