Olli Harder

Olli Harder: FA Cup semi-final should be a terrific match

Olli Harder is hoping that West Ham United Women can take what they’ve learned from recent encounters against Manchester City into their Vitality Women’s FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. 

The Hammers are no strangers to City in the FA Cup, losing to them in both the 2019 FA Cup final, which they reached in their first ever professional season, and in the fifth-round last season. 

But a 2-0 win at the Academy Stadium in October, their first ever points against the Citizens, showed that the Hammers can get a result against the bigger teams in the WSL. 

And the West Ham United manager hopes they can take their experience from each of those matches and channel it into Saturday’s massive match. 

“It should be a terrific match, Harder told whufc.com. “We’ve learned across the last two seasons that they’re a terrific side, a talented team that has a lot of depth. 

“We understand the challenge that we face, but we go into it with a great mentality. We managed to get a great result up at their place back in October, and unfortunately fell to defeat last time out, so it’s all set up for another interesting encounter. 

“We’ve seen enough of them now to know what we need to do as a team, and we’re very optimistic about our chances of reaching the final.” 

The West Ham United boss knows that his team will have to wait for opportunites to unlock a stubborn City defence, with Gareth Taylor’s team having been in incredible form since winning the Continental Tyres League Cup at the beginning of March. 

“We have to seize those counter attacking opportunities when they arrive,” the boss explained. "I don’t think it will be a secret for anybody that has watched the previous two games this season that it’s the way we will look to hurt them. 

"The biggest thing for us is to go up against them with no fear. Yes, we know they’re a talented team with a lot of quality, but we know that we can match them when we perform to our best. We’ve beaten them before and we have the opportunity to do that again."

Olli Harder
Olli Harder and the team in training

A total of ten West Ham United players have been away with the countries across the globe during the last ten days. 

And Harder revealed that Friday will be the first time that he has all of his players back at their Chadwell Heath training base as they continue their preparations for the contest at the Chigwell Construction Stadium. 

“As of now, we have all of the internationals back on site with us today [Friday], and we’re really looking forward to getting a training session in with everyone. 

“We’ve got a couple of players with little knocks here and there, which we will assess after training, but overall, we have a pretty healthy squad going into the game.” 

The men’s team celebrated a wonderful win against Olympique Lyonnais in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday evening, booking their place in the semi-finals of the competition. 

Harder believes that his side can build off of the feel good feeling around the Club, and take that into Saturday’s clash against City. 

"I think the win for the men’s team against Lyon on Thursday is a huge boost for the Club as a whole. 

"There’s a massive buzz around the whole Club at the moment, and we hope that we can replicate their success and the success that we’ve had as a team in this competition before, on Saturday,” he concluded.

The women's team need your support against Manchester City on Saturday, with tickets for the match available to purchase online.

Tickets can also be purchased at the Chigwell Construction Stadium from 10:15am on the day of the match!

Alternatively, the game is being broadcast live on BBC One from 11.30am BST on Saturday morning. 

We will also be bringing you live Twitter updates, as well as exclusive reaction to follow after the full-time whistle right here on whufc.com.