Futsal Manager Gav Cooper has reflected on his sides progress ahead of Sunday's showdown at the Copperbox Arena, Olympic Park.
The SUFC Futsal team has overcome their opposition in three different rounds and at three different venues to set up the chance to play in the Arena, with victory in the semi-final on Sunday morning putting them in the afternoon final for a chance to win the Soccer AM Cup.
Reflecting on the competition so far, Gav said: “It’s been a long road really."
“Back at the start, it was about trying to get as far as we could in the competition and then we realised that we were good enough to go really far in the competition. That’s what we’ve ended up doing.
“We started back in Leeds, taking on Accrington Stanley, Burnley and Nottingham Forest and we were fairly happy with the group back then looking at the league tables. Burnley and Forest were an unknown quantity as we’d never played them, but we were fairly confident on the day; managing to beat all three convincingly.
“We were put into a group of three in Birmingham for the next round, which we knew was going to be a lot tougher as they were the best teams coming through from the first round.
“We played Shrewsbury Town and Leicester City and it ended up being a tough day, despite beating the Shrews 7-0 in our first game. They were already knocked out having lost their first game, but it was a case of not getting beating against Leicester.
He added: “It made it a bit difficult and tentative because it affected the mindset of the group. We probably didn’t play as free-flowing as we are used to be we ended up coming through that game, winning 4-1, and progressing to the next round."
Triumph in the first two rounds of the competition meant the side would travel to the home of the English internation side; St George's Park and, after an opening game defeat, the side had it all to do to progress.
“St. George’s Park was a whole new beast and the pitch is huge," he continued.
"Compared to what we play on, it’s not far off being double the size which in Futsal makes a massive difference.
“All of a sudden long balls are being played and it retracts a little bit, in my opinion, from Futsal. Teams can hit it up to the big lad, who holds the ball up and drops it off – and that’s not really the way we like to play. We like to play from back to front and move teams around with out own movement.
“That day was a roller coaster ride – that’s the best way of describing it. We were 1-0 down in every game and even 3-0 down at half time to Derby. We got it back to 3-2, but were caught on the counter attack.
“That was tough for the lads and we knew we had to win the next two games to stand any chance. It was a tall order and we left it late against Reading to score two good goals in the last seven minutes. We then beat Leeds 6-3 to give us a real chance, but we had to wait for the outcome of the final game, which we weren’t even involved in.
He added: “I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous watching a game as that before with the various permutations that there were. Derby went out of the competition and they were one of the favourites, but I’d do it all again if it takes you through!”