We can do a Wigan - Shefki
FORMER Ipswich star Shefki Kuqi goes into the biggest game of his career tonight.Victory for the Finland international and his Blackburn team-mates over Manchester United will earn him a place in his first cup final since moving to England five years ago.
By Mel Henderson
FORMER Ipswich star Shefki Kuqi goes into the biggest game of his career tonight.
Victory for the Finland international and his Blackburn team-mates over Manchester United will earn him a place in his first cup final since moving to England five years ago.
The teams are locked at 1-1 after the first game at Ewood Park and Kuqi will line up alongside Craig Bellamy in the Rovers attack for what promises to be a pulsating Old Trafford clash.
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Kuqi has already played a major part in the tie, heading on for Norwegian ace Morten Gamst Pedersen to net a spectacular equaliser and cancel out Louis Saha's goal for United in the first game.
And the 28-year-old striker, Town's 20-goal top scorer last season, is adamant that Blackburn can complete the job.
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Kuqi, who has six goals to his credit this season, said: “We are on a good run now - we haven't lost in eight games - so everyone is buzzing and we feel we are doing well.
“We had another great result at Newcastle on Saturday and it will only boost our confidence. With the performances we are putting in at the moment, we feel as though we can go anywhere and get a result.
“We are fully confident going into the game and with it being the second leg of a semi-final, anything is possible.
“People were saying we bullied teams earlier in the season but we have just carried on without worrying about what others are saying.
“At the beginning of the season, everyone was talking about Blackburn Rovers negatively. But maybe now they are starting to realise how well we are doing and how well we are playing.”
Kuqi also acknowledged the part that Ipswich had played in completing his fairytale rise through the English ranks.
He started out with Stockport and then joined Sheffield Wednesday, but he was out of favour at Hillsborough when Town boss Joe Royle swooped to sign him in September 2003.
Kuqi said: “I had a very happy time at Ipswich and I owe them a lot, particularly Joe Royle for the faith he showed in me.
“I was sorry to leave last summer, but I could not turn down the chance to play in the Premiership and I think people understood that.
“Things have been going well for me and if I could help Blackburn to the Carling Cup Final it would be the highlight of my career in England.
“I have been back to see the guys at Ipswich on a couple of occasions and I wish them well. I always look out for their result.”
If Kuqi makes it to the final, he will come up against a player he starred alongside for Ipswich during his first few months in Suffolk.
Midfielder Alan Mahon, who was on loan at Portman Road at the time, last night helped Wigan to their first major cup final.
Mahon will now be praying that he starts in the final at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday February 26 after a massive let-down four years ago.
After playing in both legs of Blackburn's semi-final win over Sheffield Wednesday, and in all four of their previous games, he was devastated to be an unused substitute as Rovers saw off favourites Tottenham to lift the trophy.