Farndon will be hoping that the FA Youth Cup's standout performer, Bassala Sambou, can continue his fine goalscoring form against Premier League Arsenal...
U18s academy coach, Jason Farndon is set to host the Gunners in tonight’s FA Cup fifth round tie at the Ricoh Arena, with a place in the quarterfinals at stake.
The young academy side have dispelled the likes of Stoke City and Charlton Athletic on route to the fifth round, but Farndon is aware that the challenge posed by top tiered Arsenal will likely be the toughest test yet.
“[Arsenal are] a really good footballing team, they have one of the best academies in Europe.
“The way we’ve looked at the opposition will help. We expect them [Arsenal] to go fully locked and loaded against us, they played in the week against Anderlecht and 13 of those players are eligible to play against us,” Farndon commented.
Farndon’s side, who were dumped out of the competition last season by eventual finalists, Manchester City will be using that experience as a learning curve for this evening’s game.
The academy coach has confidence that experience playing on stadium pitches over the course of the league campaign will pay dividends against what is expected to be a skilled Arsenal side.
“It’ll be a big occasion because it’s a knockout game, but the lads will be a lot less nervous [than last year] and more ready to handle the pressure of the night.
“We’re looking for that experience in the U21s to filter through to the younger boys and that produces a really good team feeling.
“The Youth Cup is always a situation where players have to fight to make the team, that’s the added pressure – all the boys want to make the squad.”
Farndon is hoping that the magic of the cup captures the imagination of local Sky Blues’ fans and the audience at the Ricoh give the youngsters the boost they need to reach the last 8:
“Hopefully the supporters get behind it and support the young boys. We want to get as far as we can and if that determination gets us in the quarterfinals, then brilliant!”
Kick-off is 7pm at the Ricoh Arena and tickets are available from the West Stand turnstiles at £4 for adults and £2 for children.