Cardiff manager Malky Mackay knows his squad still possess sufficient self-belief to overcome West Ham in their npower Championship play-off semi-final today.
The Bluebirds are heavy underdogs after going down 2-0 to a Jack Collison brace at the Cardiff City Stadium in Thursday’s first-leg.
Ahead of the Upton Park return, most observers expect this year’s Carling Cup finalists to be nursing play-off disappointment for the third consecutive season, but Mackay — a play-off winner during his time as a player with both West Ham and Watford — believes there is life in the tie yet.
“Most people may now expect West Ham to make it through to the final — that could be a natural reaction I suppose,” he said.
“But myself and the team don’t subscribe to that. We go into Monday afternoon trying to win the game. Right now we have a fighter’s chance.”
West Ham missed out on automatic promotion to Southampton on the final day of the season but have responded superbly.
“I think the play-offs have been one of the best things that has been introduced to football along with three points,” Hammers assistant manager Neil McDonald said.
“It gives everybody a chance, it keeps the whole season going and, yes, it is slightly disappointing to finish third and so many points above fourthbut we knew what was happening.
“We knew what the situation was and we’ve tried to put that to the back of our mind now.
“Everybody is equal, the whole four teams in the play-offs are in good form and the Blackpool v Birmingham game is on a knife edge.
“I suppose so is ours but we have a good advantage going into the second leg 2-0 up and we have to try and take advantage of that.
“I think it has been an impressive season even though we have not got automatic promotion.
“If we can get through then we can start planning to try and enjoy the experience at Wembley.”
McDonald insists the Hammers are not taking the fixture lightly and believes the home support will spur them forward.
“I think two goals away from home is fantastic and our home form puts us in a good mood,” he said.
“I think the support we had the other night from the travelling fans was absolutely fantastic.
“I hope that will bounce onto the home game and the whole place will be trying to take the roof off the stadium,” he added.
“It will make it an intimidating place to come to, that’s for sure.
“There will be a fantastic atmosphere but it still won’t be an easy game to get through.
“Planning and preparation is the key and we’ve done it in one game and hopefully we can do it in the second.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved