Saturday, June 19, 2021

Kompany report buoys Guardiola after Cup stalemate


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Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola watches from the touchline during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester City at the John Smith stadium in Huddersfield, northern England on February 18, 2017. PHOTO: OLI SCARFF / AFP

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted Vincent Kompany had not suffered a serious injury setback after the captain missed Saturday’s goalless FA Cup draw at Huddersfield Town.

The Belgian centre-back, who has played just six times this season because of a series of injury problems, had been expected to figure against the Championship side but was not on the City team-sheet.

Guardiola, however, played down concerns about Kompany’s fitness, although it is unclear whether he will figure in Tuesday’s Champions League game at home to Monaco.

“Two days ago, he felt something in his leg. It is not a big, big issue,” said Guardiola, who stressed he was content to face Huddersfield again in a last 16-replay.

“I knew the game that we had to play,” the Spaniard said. “In the first half we had our chances, the (Huddersfield) goalkeeper was brilliant.

“In the second half maybe we played a bit better but we didn’t create many chances.

“So many teams in the Premier League are out (of the FA Cup) and we have another chance (February 28) at home, we will try to quality.

“A big compliment to the team, I know how difficult it is with the pitch, they are so aggressive, they are so dynamic.

“We will play a replay for the first time in my life and we will try to qualify,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager added.

– ‘Identities’ –

Guardiola defended his decision to make eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s game at the John Smith’s Stadium, saying the replay will not affect his plans for a training camp in Abu Dhabi, where City’s owners are based, next week.

“With this schedule, with a lot of games, we have Monaco, they (players) deserve to play,” Guardiola explained. “We are coming back on Saturday. We are going to be two or three days there to see our chairman.

“By midday we will be in Manchester. Now our focus is on the Champions League game.”

Guardiola also refused to comment on an incident that saw a plastic bottle thrown from the main stand towards City substitute Raheem Sterling as he warmed up.

Meanwhile Huddersfield manager David Wagner said his second-tier side had chances to beat City, although he too was happy with a replay.

“If you ask me did we have some chances, yes, we had two or three,” he said. “But City had some very good opportunities as well and they were the better team but we shouldn’t be surprised.

“I am very proud and very happy the players stuck in their identities. We tried to play our game. Of course if we play one of the best teams in the world they will create some chances.

“We wanted to show we are one of the fittest teams in the competition and we are aggressive and brave enough and all of this we have proved today.

“We now have a rematch. That makes me happy because I love to see my players playing matches, one game more or less, who cares? We are still in the competition.”

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