Soccer: O'Connor up for cup glory

Birmingham captain Martyn O'Connor is adamant that his side will not be going to the Millennium Stadium to make up the numbers.

Birmingham captain Martyn O'Connor is adamant that his side will not be going to the Millennium Stadium to make up the numbers.

The Blues have certainly earned the right to contest the Worthington Cup final after claiming the scalps of three Premiership sides - Tottenham, Newcastle and Ipswich - in the competition.

Now they face their toughest test so far when they play Liverpool in Sunday's showpiece.

Veteran O'Connor said: "The pressure is not on us in the cup games. In the league people expect Birmingham City to win or draw whereas in the cup the odds have been stacked against us.

"But no-one can deny that we deserve the right to be in the final. We've had such a hard run in the cup - and have come through every obstacle.

"In all honesty people never gave us a chance against Tottenham away and then Newcastle at home, and the two legs with Ipswich in the semi-final.

"But throughout this run the lads have showed tremendous character which is what Birmingham City is all about.

"We've overturned the odds and when we knock it about with confidence, like we did against Tottenham, then we are a good side. That was as good a performance since I've been at the club.

"Whenever we've needed something in the cup games, we've pulled it out of the bag and it means so much to the lads to be in a major final."

O'Connor, who signed a new one-year extension to his contract before Christmas, admitted: "We've got a tough, tough final coming up against Liverpool who have been doing superb this season.

"We will enjoy the build-up to the game and the occasion and, win or lose in Cardiff, it's been a great cup run.

"We know we've got a medal in the bag whatever happens and Liverpool will be favourites - but we want a winner's medal and in a one-off game anything can happen.

"But we will give it everything for the fans who have had no success for a while and who will relish this occasion."

O'Connor knows that Premiership football has to remain the priority for Blues, who are facing a congested fixture list once the showpiece occasion at Cardiff has come and gone.

"We have to remember that Tranmere got to the same stage last season as a First Division side but they did not go up and I'm sure they would have swapped that for a place in Premiership," said O'Connor.

"We know it's going to be difficult week-in and week-out to beat Premiership sides - but the way this club is geared it is crying out for Premiership football.

"Everyone relishes the cup games and it is nice to come away from the league and play against a big club in front of more than 20,000 people.

"Those are the kind of games we want to see week-in and week-out - and if our league form continues then all being well we will have that to look forward to next season.

"Amongst all the excitement of the cup it has been important to try and ensure that we keep picking up points. Going up is the number one aim."

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