It’s Oxford United versus Manchester City for the second season running in the Carabao Cup, and with Pep Guardiola’s side seemingly out of the race for the Premier League crown, the focus may have just turned on the cup competitions for the remainder of the campaign.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to Oxford United vice-chairman Zaki Nuseibeh, who provided his views on a number of the big topics ahead of Wednesday night’s clash, including what the game means to the club and what exactly has lead to this successful cup run for the U’s.
Many thanks for joining us ahead of what is undoubtedly a massive opportunity and occasion for Oxford United. What exactly does this game mean to yourself as a key figure at the club, as well as the local community?
It is a huge occasion and as a club, we really are very proud to be in the last eight of a major competition. We actually won the League Cup back in 1986, so it obviously means a lot to the club and to the city, and brings back great memories to our fans. The club went through difficult times after the highs of the 1980s, but we have the ambition and desire to bring back the success.
It’s the second successive season that Oxford United have sustained a run in the League Cup, with this season’s run far more impressive – what would you put this down to?
Belief and togetherness. Hard work and talent are of course important ingredients for success, but to have everyone at the club, as well as our fans, buy into the culture we’re trying to build is what I believe is differentiating us today.
How much of an impact does playing Premier League clubs have on both the players and fans at Oxford United?
It does have an impact, and of course it is a great occasion when we play against some of the biggest stars in the world of football. That said, we approach every game professionally and with a work ethic that does not differentiate between oppositions. This season we have proudly played against, and beaten, teams from the Premier league, Championship, League One, League Two, and Non-League, and our players look forward to the different challenge each of them bring.
Oxford United still remain in strong contention for a play-off spot in League One this season – what are your ambitions going into the remainder of the season, after a relatively impressive start to the campaign?
We are simply targeting promotion! It is long season with many twists and turns, but we certainly believe we have the ingredients to achieve it!
To give Manchester City fans some idea as to what to expect on Wednesday night, who are the key talents we should be looking out for amongst the Oxford squad?
I am not going to single out any player because we have a squad competing every week to start, and I am sure whoever is selected will give a 100% to the team. If you look at our record in the league (and cup competitions), we have had goals coming from a number of different players and so I wouldn’t want to single out anyone really!
How do you see the game going, and can we get a score prediction?
It is a cup game, so who knows!
You can follow Zaki on twitter here: @Nuseibeh
You can follow us for live updates here: @City_Xtra