Sat, Feb 14, 2009 - Page 18 News List

THE FA CUP: Swansea go Spanish to taste success

AGENCIES , LONDON

Roberto Martinez shouts during Swansea’s FA Cup tie against Portsmouth at Fratton Park in Portsmouth, England, on Jan. 24.

PHOTO: AFP

Swansea City manager Roberto Martinez has had a special affinity with the FA Cup since becoming the first Spaniard to score in the competition.

Today he can write another chapter in the annals of the cup as his Championship side aim for their third Premier League scalp of the season when they host Fulham for a place in the quarter-finals.

The gleaming new Liberty Stadium, tucked in between the South Glamorgan hills and Swansea Bay, will be full to bursting point with the club’s long-suffering fans revelling in the wave of optimism that Martinez has instilled.

With a squad containing six Spaniards, an Argentine and Jason Scotland, a Trinidadian goal machine, Swansea have become one of the stories of the season and talk of possible promotion to the Premier League is rife.

Martinez spent six years at Wigan, becoming the first Spaniard to score in the FA Cup when the side beat Runcorn in 1995. He also had spells at Motherwell and Walsall before joining Swansea in 2003.

That coincided with one of the worst chapters in the club’s history when they needed to win their final game of the season to retain their professional status.

Martinez returned to Swansea as coach in 2007 with the club in far better shape and has set about creating a team to fit the stadium they share with the Ospreys Rugby Club.

Swansea have been a revelation since winning League One last season and have won plaudits for their cultured soccer.

Many are tipping Swansea to beat Fulham, but Martinez is quick to offer a dose of reality.

“We have to be a bit realistic,” he said. “We are playing against a Premier League side, a very good Premier League side who are enjoying a great season with fantastic players.”

Today’s FA Cup fifth round fixtures:

• Blackburn v Coventry

• Sheffield United v Hull

• Swansea v Fulham

• Watford v Chelsea

• West Ham v Middlesbrough

Tomorrow:

• Derby v Manchester United

• Everton v Aston Villa

Fourth round replay on Monday:

• Arsenal v Cardiff

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