Spirit is the key

Sunday 22 September 2002

Fulham Assistant Boss Christian Damiano believes his side's team spirit could hold the key to victory on Monday evening at Loftus Road.

Talking from The Whites Motspur Park training ground on Friday Damiano told Fulham Today:

"The game is going to be in the balance.

"I think Chelsea have more important players but at the end of the match it's our spirit that could make the difference."

Like Fulham, Chelsea had a UEFA Cup outing last week, albeit at the relatively quiet surroundings of Stamford Bridge.

"I think Chelsea will be in the same situation as us, they had to play a UEFA Cup match on Thursday also. The atmosphere at their match wasn't the same as in Split but they had a difficult game.

Damiano added that the electric atmosphere and pressure created by both sets of fans on Monday cannot be anywhere near as intimidating as it was last week for Fulham in Croatia.

"We were under pressure from the first day we arrived. There was about 200 Split fans waiting at our hotel making noise all afternoon. After that they blocked the coach's route when we were trying to get to the training ground.

"We have many players in our squad who have played international games, and they know how to deal with that situation. If you try to fight against the atmosphere, you go down to their level. If you do that, you'll lose every time.

"They tried everything on the pitch. The players tried to cheat and fool the referee with one penalty appeal. But we stayed quiet and I think the referee had a very good game."

"But this is a derby match and we are at home so there's a different spirit to the match. We will be ready for the atmosphere.

"Everybody in the squad has improved this season; this is a very important factor and we have a very big spirit that can see us through."