Nordin Amrabat walked down Wembley Way as a fan nearly five years ago for the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona. Ibrahim Afellay, the then Barca player who now plays at Stoke City, sorted his former PSV teammate out with two tickets. Amrabat is now part of a team who are just two wins from providing him with the platform to play at the famous home of English football.
“I know the cup from television,” Amrabat said yesterday. “It is the most important and the biggest cup in England. Every big team wants to win the cup, when they do it’s a very happy day. We play against Leeds and if we have a good draw, it’s a semi final at Wembley, we are close. We need to beat two opponents, so it’s the fastest way to achieve [an appearance at Wembley]. Watford are not going to win the Premier League but the FA Cup? You never know.”
Amrabat is not short on confidence. Asked by the national media what he’s found most difficult about settling in he replied: “Nothing”. However, he will not be underestimating tomorrow’s opponents.
“We need to respect Leeds, it’s a good team,” he said. “We were serious in it [the competition] from the beginning. It’s a nice tournament. The lower division sides can beat the Premier League teams because it’s one game. If you score one goal then you defend you can win.”
It was the odd goal, in both games, that saw Malaga suffer a shock Copa del Rey exit earlier this season at the hands of Mirandes, the second division side. Amrabat was rested for the first leg and then summoned from the bench in the second as Malaga sought to rescue the tie.
“The coach chose to rest four players in the first leg,” Amrabat said. “I stayed home at home. In the second leg I played the last 15 but we lost. It can happen.”
Amrabat’s full Watford debut came in the FA Cup, the fourth-round tie at the City Ground. He should start again tomorrow as Watford face another Championship side who won’t let Watford have it all their own way.
“Forest play really compact, they were afraid to lose,” said Amrabat. “I don’t know lots about Leeds but I know they are a big club in the past. I don’t know how they play exactly but… I’m ready to play.”
Amrabat had been substituted by the time Ighalo bagged the winner in the last round but he thought he had cracked the winner himself only for Dorus De Vries is claw it out of the top corner.
“It was a good save,” said Amrabat. “But I just try to help the team. When someone is in better position I pass to them. In one moment [against Palace] I could shoot, but I saw Troy free and I give it to him. You need to decide really fast.”
Leeds will need to be at their sharpest to keep tabs on the Moroccan firecracker tomorrow.
• Tickets are still on sale to Watford fans on the club’s ticket database for Saturday’s game. Click HERE for more details.