Birmingham City earned their spot in the semi-finals of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on Saturday, the team were undoubtedly filled with joy, however, manager Carla Ward stated that the rather quick turnaround of just three days “is an injustice to the competition”.
Ward’s side continues their FA Cup run after winning 4-2 on penalties against Brighton, after a nail-biting 2-2 draw following extra time at the weekend.
But is a three-day day gap between the quarter-final and semi-final fair for a side that endured an intense 120 minutes, plus penalties?
Carla Ward didn’t shy away from the subject as she deemed it “ridiculous”.
“Honestly, I cannot get my head around how anyone thinks it would be the right decision to play a quarter-final of the FA Cup, probably the most prestigious competition in football, and then play three days later in the semi-finals,
“These players have gone out and given 120 minutes and we’ve had to pull them in yesterday on their day off to get in the pool and try and give us every chance.”
Birmingham City will face fellow Women’s Super League (WSL) side, Everton in today’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup semi-final.
Despite the quick turnaround captain Christie Murray said that her side “will be ready”.
Pointing out the obvious challenge of an intense three days Murray states that they must make sure as players that they are doing everything that they can to ensure that they are ready.
“It’s making sure that everything is on point, and that we are fully recovered, and then making the preparations. Making sure that as players we are doing everything to make sure that we are ready, eating, sleeping, being on the pitch and doing everything that we need to do; but it seems very quick in terms of a turnaround.”
“These are the games you want to play in as a footballer” – Murray.
With manager Ward only arriving at the club last month, she added seven new signings ahead of the new season.
“I’ve taken the job based on the fact that we’ve got a hardworking, honest group of individuals that want to get better, that will always give you half a chance over a team that wants to pump loads of money in.”
It was clear to see the positive environment over at Birmingham City, despite the timeframe going against them, Ward was praising her team for the hard work that they have continued to put into the club.
“These girls have had a tough ride, particularly over the summer. Make no bones about it, they didn’t even know if they’d have a football club to play with this season so, for them, it would be a dream come true because they deserve it, they’ve stuck by the club.”
Birmingham City will arguably be the underdogs in today’s showdown, but with that comes far less pressure, and much more freedom to enjoy the game.
Murray explained that captaining her side through the game will be “brilliant”.
The Scottish international added that: “it’s a brilliant occasion for us to go out there and show what we are about as a team, and just go out there and enjoy it – it is an FA Cup semi-final, these are the games that you want to play in as a footballer,
“So, we are really excited, and I am looking forward to playing in it.”