Portsmouth versus Chelsea would have been mismatch even if the former club had not fallen down the rabbit hole of financial irregularities and relegation from the English Premier League. Just as Portsmouth prepares to head down to the Championship, it can still hope to have one last hurrah over the league champions.
Avram Grant’s side meets Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final in a match which is being billed as a David versus Goliath encounter. As woeful as Portsmouth has been in the English Premier League, they have managed to find a higher gear in the world’s oldest cup competition. The Israeli manager’s side saw off the challenge of next year’s Champions League attendees, Tottenham Hotspur to make an unlikely appearance in the showpiece event at Wembley. After having watched the dismantling of Wigan Athletic, Avram Grant’s mood was visibly pessimistic yet even within that pessimism he was quietly confident that his side would be able to pull of a shock victory that would be one of the greatest of all time. Realizing the task that his side faces against Chelsea’s multi millionaire, international squad, Grant said “They're a very good team. They spent a lot of money to buy players to build a team like this. From a squad side, this is the best squad in England.”
Asked if Portsmouth had a chance against the new crowned Chelsea side, he replied, “On paper, no. They are a better team than us in any aspect of football. But so was Tottenham, and Chelsea are stronger. But I don't believe in sport you need to come with a negative attitude, even if the other team is much much better. All the league is between us, so it will be very difficult but we will try to do our best.”
Midfield enforcer, Aaron Makoena who will be in the South African squad for the World Cup being held in his home country, said that the team had tried to keep its mind off the off the field goings-on and was focused on trying its best against Chelsea which looked almost unbeatable at the weekend against Wigan. Mokoena said, “It's been a really interesting season for us. But I always said, whatever happened off the field has been beyond our control, the players and technical staff, the only thing we could affect was on the field and do what we're good at."
The South African midfielder paid a tribute to Portsmouth’s resilience and said their appearance in the final was testament to the fact that hard work pays off, "I'm not surprised that we're in an FA Cup final. Yes, it's been hard, I wouldn't lie but the character we have in that dressing room paid off."
Mokoena outlined how Portsmouth will be treating the game against Chelsea, "We have a great respect for Chelsea, they had a great season, they've beaten a couple of teams with unbelievable results but the FA Cup final is just a one-off game, absolutely it's different,"
When asked about his involvement in the World Cup, the South African enforcer said that focus must be spent on the present and that the future will take care of itself. He wanted all of his determination to be against Chelsea on Saturday which will be a sort of farewell for Portsmouth from the top flight of English football, "At the moment it's the FA Cup final, the World Cup will come. It's important as well, the World Cup but at the moment it's focusing on the FA Cup final and moving on. It's a great dress rehearsal for me and for other players who are going to be involved in the World Cup, so it's all about putting that 110 percent focus on this one and moving on."
With Chelsea still in festive mood over winning the English Premier League title after a gap of 3 years, Portsmouth will be hoping that they will be complacent against them; a mistake that Avram Grant’s side will be looking to take full advantage of. Saturday’s game gives Chelsea’s Carlo Ancelotti to win the double in his first full season of English football, a feat that even Jose “The Special One” Mourinho was unable to achieve. This game between David and Goliath promises to be spectacular.