At Yanjing Beer 2022 China Football Association Cup, Zhejiang team advanced to the final for the first time and set a new record again. At 15: 30 on January 15th, Beijing time, Zhejiang team will play against Shandong Taishan team which entered the FA Cup final for the fifth consecutive year.
Source: Football Association official website
In 2022, Zhejiang ranked third in the Super League, setting the best record in the team’s history and returning to the AFC Champions League after 12 years, but this is not the end of the team’s season. At Yanjing Beer 2022 China Football Association Cup, Zhejiang team advanced to the final for the first time and set a new record again. At 15: 30 on January 15th, Beijing time, Zhejiang team will play against Shandong Taishan team which entered the FA Cup final for the fifth consecutive year.
Before the game, Frank, the captain of Zhejiang team, bluntly said in an official interview: “No one believed that we would come here, but we did it.” On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Zhejiang Professional Football Club, Frank said, “I am very happy to have such a coincidence. I believe that after that day, we can bring joy to our club, our city and all the fans with trophies. “
Reporter: judging from the progress of the game, your state has not been affected by jet lag or long-distance flight? How did you do that?
Frank: It’s incredible for me, because I thought it would be difficult for me to recover. But I think maybe strong willpower has played a role. This game is very important to us. Everyone in our team has a strong desire to win and a desire for trophies. The whole team came here despite all kinds of difficulties. I gave everything like everyone else in the competition. Finally, victory came naturally.
Reporter: Foreign coaches and players attach great importance to Christmas, New Year’s Day and other festivals, but Zhejiang’s foreign teachers and foreign aid are all with the team. Is this a special season from the beginning of your career?
Frank: This situation is similar to last season, but it is not the first time for our team. Last year, because of the Super League play-offs, we were the last team to finish the game. Perhaps it is because of this experience that, in a sense, our team is more easily adapted to this situation psychologically.
However, I believe that it is definitely not easy to experience foreign teachers and foreign aid twice. It is really a bit difficult. We spent too much time and energy, and of course we achieved good results in the end. Pay is in direct proportion to gain. Everything will be fine! We still have the last game of the season. I think this will be one of the best games in the history of the club, and we will all be proud of it.
Reporter: What did you say to everyone in the dressing room before the semi-final? What about before the penalty shootout?
Frank: I told them that no one believed us. People in this circle include our opponents and so on. No one believes that our Zhejiang team can make it to the final. Because of this, we need to enjoy the game, for the sake of football itself and for the sake of so many fans present. This is a moment worth enjoying. In other words, we don’t need pressure, but the pressure is on our opponents. This is a problem they need to deal with, and we don’t need to think about it.
Reporter: Do you think that after the semi-final with Haigang, the team’s physical and psychological state has reached its best?
Frank: Yes, this game has brought confidence to everyone in our team. We are really at a wonderful moment now. I mean, if you look back at the beginning of the whole season, we didn’t play well. We only scored two points in the first four games and had a difficult time, but everyone in our whole team grew up together. I think not only this semi-final, but everything experienced throughout the season will bring more motivation and confidence to everyone.
Reporter: Shandong Taishan team seems to have encountered problems on the offensive end, and Crecente has been suspended. How to evaluate the current strength and state of this opponent?
Frank: Shandong Taishan is a great team, and their performance throughout the season is enough to prove it. Taishan team is very strong from individual to overall strength. I think they have always been a top team, whether it is the cup or the league. This season, they fought against the three towns in Wuhan to the last minute in the competition for the league title. It will certainly be difficult to face such an opponent in the final, but we have made full preparations in all aspects.
Reporter: Before you came to China, you experienced many big scenes, including the Champions League and the Europa League. What kind of experience do you have to share with your current teammates?
Frank: Not only me, but also other people with experience can help the team. We will convey motivation and confidence through communication. What we need to do most is to calm our mind. We can’t think this is a crucial game, but treat it as an ordinary game, relax and enjoy it.
Of course, this is really a trophy final. In many ways, it cannot be an ordinary game, but we can treat it in another way. In the league, we have played against Shandong Taishan team twice and all other teams twice. We know exactly what it’s like to play an important game.
We didn’t play well at the beginning of the season, but the reason why we were not good at coping with the pressure at that time was probably that the team had just returned to the top league after six years. Things are different now. After a season, we have made progress. As I said when I answered the first question, this time as long as we treat it with a normal heart, we can play our best and what happens next will follow.
Reporter: In the past 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Croatia left a deep impression on people. As a Croatian, what kind of impression do you want to bring to the team?
Frank: Before the World Cup, many people asked me what the ranking of Zhejiang team would be this year and what Croatia could achieve in the World Cup. I should have had the foresight. I tell you, our club team will achieve very good results, and our national team will certainly advance to at least the semi-finals. The final result is also very interesting, because we won the third place in the league and Croatia also won the third place in the World Cup.
As a country with a population of 4 million, Croatia has entered the finals of two consecutive World Cups, which is extremely exciting for the people of the whole country. This is enough to convince all of us that anything is possible.
Reporter: January 14th this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Zhejiang Professional Football Club, and the final has just started on January 15th. How to treat such a coincidence?
Frank: This is a stronger motivation for us. I’m glad to have such a coincidence. I believe that after that day, we can bring joy to our club, our city and all the fans with trophies.