Chelsea midfielder Jelena Cankovic believes past success in the FA Cup is irrelevant in our bid to overcome Crystal Palace in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup fifth round at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
Having progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup with victory over Sunderland in midweek, where Cankovic played the full 90 minutes, our attention shifts to the FA Cup where we will face another high-flying Championship opponent in Crystal Palace.
We came through extra time against West Ham United to progress from the fourth round, while Palace overcame Blackburn Rovers to book an all-London affair in the fifth and our Serbian midfielder knows we will need to fight for our place in a competition close to our hearts.
Cankovic was quick to dismiss our previous successes in the FA Cup as being an advantage going into today's game. The 28-year-old insists no club is entitled to a positive result and that we are going to have to work for a place in the quarter-finals.
‘I think we are all aware that we need to earn it because it’s a new year,’ Cankovic said. ‘It doesn’t matter what has been done in the past. It’s nice to have these trophies, but we don’t have it this year and we want to win it again.
‘We are going to fight for it because it’s an important competition for us. We are not entitled to it, we need to earn it, and I think that’s how all the teams see it.'
Eight goals without reply in our previous two matches highlights the devastating and clinical edge to our game. Cankovic says that creating chances is one thing, but converting them is the most important thing.
‘I think that’s what wins the games. If you want to win everything, you’ve got to be clinical. It’s important to have good performances and to play well, to put ourselves in a position to create the chances, but then we need to execute them.
‘I think that’s what football is about – first and foremost to build, but then once you create chances you’ve got to be clinical. I think that’s what we’ve showed all this season.’
Palace arrive at Kingsmeadow sitting third in the Barclays Women’s Championship and with promotion to the top-flight well within their reach. Cankovic knows what the FA Cup can conjure up and has emphasised the need to focus on what we can control.
‘We don’t get to play against a team from a lower division that often, and I think they are definitely going to work hard and they can cause us problems. They are going to do everything they can to win this game, because it’s a cup game, it’s one tie and anything is possible.
‘So, I think we have to be ready for a hard time, but we just need to play our game, keep our focus on what we need to do and work towards the goal, which is winning the FA Cup.’