Mihajlovic looks ahead to the semi-final cup tie with Alessandria.

(IN THE PHOTO: press conference at Milanello) 

MILANELLO – On Monday afternoon, Sinisa Mihajlovic held a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s TIM Cup semi-final return-leg with Alessandria. The Rossoneri go into the cup tie with a 1-0 lead from the first-leg.

Opening comments from the Rossoneri coach: “We have the chance to progress to the final and I will be starting some of those players that have played less this season. We all care a great deal about this competition and I am expecting a great performance from everyone. We are in good form and we know what we have to do: battle and work hard for one another. We need to step things up a gear and I am expecting a lot from those who have played less such as Balotelli and Menez. They are quality players and they have to make the most of the opportunities that come their way. They will both play.” 

Mihajlovic called on the team to grasp this chance: “We cannot lower our guard tomorrow. By progressing, we will have a chance to lift a trophy and we need to make the best of this opportunity. We are preparing well and we are looking to keep our concentration levels high. It’s very hard for me to settle, I always want to improve. I focus on what I ask of my forwards and then I look at the overall performance. Even on Saturday, we had a few chances to shoot but we didn’t take them. We need to have more confidence and the courage to shoot. We are one of the sides that has the most shots on goal. I like to have the confidence of everyone. Hard work pays and we are now seeing the results. But we still haven’t achieved anything yet, we are in sixth place in the table, and we must take things one game at a time.” 

The focus is entirely on Alessandria and the TIM Cup: “After the cup game with Alessandria, we will have four days to prepare for the match with Sassuolo, but we will focus on that game after the cup tie. The players deserve all the credit. After a testing time, they have turned things around. I have a great relationship with the President which is frank and honest. You cannot always agree on things but I have always listened to everything, but as coach I make the choices. He has never imposed anything on me and he has given me his full backing. Our goal is to get the very best out of the team. Tomorrow we have to kill-off the contest early. As for Jose Mauri, we will see after training.” 

Joining Mihajlovic in the press conference were Abbiati and Abate. This is what they had to say ahead of the match with Alessandria:

“Reaching the final would mean a lot. It would increase our self-belief. I also think it would have a positive knock-on effect in the league. Winning a trophy for this club would be an immense source of satisfaction. It won’t be easy though tomorrow and we will have to earn our spot in the final. We need to play like we know how. We cannot get ahead of ourselves however and let’s focus on getting to the final first. It will be hard for Inter to overturn their first leg defeat, but the main thing is that we qualify for the final.”  

“I am feeling good. I have enjoyed lots of positive periods during my time at the club. I like to think that I have always played my part. We are focused on tomorrow, it is a big match. We need to have the right level of concentration to achieve an important objective. I enjoy playing alongside Honda. He is a very bright lad and he works hard for the team. We cannot hold back as we are now entering a decisive stage of the season. We all expected to turn things around and I am not surprised by the positive displays from Honda. We are all of the same opinion; it would be a shame to start from scratch next season. What’s more, no one has ever said the coach is leaving.”