4 May 2012

Nigeria: FA Cup Final - Mikel Eyes Country's Milestone

Photo: Nation
Didier Drogba in action.

Super Eagles' John Obi Mikel will tomorrow be seeking to add another silverware to his fantastic Chelsea career when the Blues confront Liverpool in the final of the Football Association (FA) Cup at the Wembley Stadium. It is the 131st FA Cup final.

In fact, if Chelsea win the match, the 25 year old midfielder will become the first Nigerian to win four FA Cup titles in England. It would be a milestone for the former Lyn Oslo player, who made his Chelsea debut on September 12, 2006, during a UEFA Champions League tie against Levski Sofia, where he took a powerful shot which the goalkeeper failed to save and Didier Drogba pounced on the rebound, his has been a story of successes on the pitch.

Mikel's first taste of FA Cup glory was in the 2006-20007 season, followed by another success in the 2006-2007 season and yet another final glory in the 2009-2010 season. Only former Nigerian captain, Nwankwo Kanu has won the same number of FA Cup titles that Mikel has won in his fledgling career.

Now Mikel has the opportunity to go one better than Kanu tomorrow and like an Oliver Twist, he is relishing his date with history.

"Winning a fourth FA Cup title with Chelsea will be something of a great honour and accomplishment to me because when I first joined the team, I never though that I would be this successful in so short a time", Mikel told his club's website, during the week.

He added that team were determined to take maximum advantage of the chances that come their way when they confront Liverpool in tomorrow's showdown at Wembley.

Midfielder John Mikel Obi (R) vies for the ball against Liverpool's Craig Bellamy (L) during an English Premier League match

"We know it is going to be a very intense and cagey match because Liverpool are a very strong side in this type of competition and they also want to win the cup. But I feel that we have the chance of winning because the players are determined to succeed.

"The winner of the match is the team whose players take their chances and with the way we have been playing, we have a strong chance of shading the game", added Mikel.

Mikel and his Chelsea teammates will be relying on Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba to rain in the goals up front against the Reds as Liverpool are called by their fans. Torres, who netted three goals during last weekend's Premier League match against QPR and the back-breaking equaliser in the Champions League second leg semifinal final match against Barcelona, has been in fine form of late and and is likely to reproduce such a chart-bursting form against his former club.

For Liverpool, they are going for their eight FA Cup glory if they beat Chelsea tomorrow. Their first taste of success in the FA Cup was in 1965. They have since followed it with further triumphs in 1974, 1986, 1989, 1992, 2001 and 2006. They are more successful than Chelsea in England and Europe. In fact, they have the most fans in England.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are names that are pretty much written into the history of their respective clubs. Despite never being able to forge a partnership in midfield for England, they make their teams tick and bring the best out of those around them.

Lampard has spent much of this season on the bench but has recently found form under the stewardship of Roberto Di Matteo, delivering two brilliant performances and contributing two key assists to see off Barcelona in the Champions League.

Gerrard has been much more up and down since returning from injury, but performances like his virtuoso display seeing off Everton at Anfield with a hat-trick have shown glimpses of the player he remains. If either of these can deliver a trademark performance this Saturday they could well ensure it is them who lift the famous trophy.

Up front both side have brilliant strikers at their disposal. Luis Suarez has flattered to deceive at times since joining Liverpool, often looking good whilst not contributing as many goals as he should. His outstanding hat-trick this past weekend however sees him head into the final in fine form. The Uruguayan's work rate and dribbling ability worries defenders and he could fancy his chances against a Chelsea defence lacking in pace.

The blues will once again choose between Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres to spearhead their attack, but it could be the former kop idol who makes an impact this weekend. Torres has struggled in a Chelsea shirt but in recent weeks seems to be getting his goalscoring touch back. A cool finish in the Nou Camp saw Chelsea through to the Champions League Final and he followed that up with a fine hat-trick against

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