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Laurens: Pastore matures for PSG

Ligue 1 15 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 11, 2006

Kewell up for cup double

A nerveless Harry Kewell is relishing the prospect of playing on two of football's biggest stages over the next few weeks.

The Liverpool winger begins what he hopes will be a memorable period with Saturday's FA Cup final against West Ham at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Then Kewell will link up with his Australia team-mates for the World Cup finals in Germany next month, the Socceroos making a return to the tournament after a 32-year wait.

For Kewell, who has undoubtedly played his best football this season for the Reds after joining them from Leeds three years ago, the two cups are a dream rather than something to be feared.

'People ask which makes me more nervous - the FA Cup or World Cup,' said Kewell.

'Actually it's neither, because I enjoy the big stage - and that's why I am looking forward to both.

'It's probably taken me even longer to get to the FA Cup final than it has to the World Cup!

'I know it's only every four years the World Cup comes around, but how many chances do you get to play in an FA Cup final?

'They can only come around once in a career, and you have to take the opportunity whenever it comes.

'As a boy, of course I aimed to play in the FA Cup final. There is no point not aiming for high things.

'The Champions League is the biggest; then the FA Cup, because people always stop to watch it.'

Liverpool have certainly proven show-stoppers en route to the clash with the Hammers, staging a remarkable comeback from 3-1 down at Luton in the third round in January before winning 5-3.

Rafael Benitez's side then went on to beat Manchester United in a fifth-round tie at Old Trafford - and later returned to the venue to knock out Chelsea in a semi-final.

Many would perhaps feel Liverpool's name is on the cup, but Kewell knows better than that.

'When you play in a final all the talk about favourites counts for nothing, because both teams have earned their place and they are as good as one another,' he said.

'I wouldn't say one team is favourite over another - and after being underdogs in Istanbul for the Champions League final last season, we all know what can happen on the day.

'But we've certainly taken the hard route to Cardiff.

'We were 3-1 down at Luton in the third round, and it looked like we were going out until the manager changed things around and we got ourselves through.

'We always believed in ourselves. Luton were the better team for 70 minutes, but it's a 90-minute game, and we proved to a lot of people that we can step it up a gear if we fall behind.

'We've also beaten Manchester United and Chelsea this year, and I think that is the best way to go.

'You have to overcome them one way or another to win the cup, and to do what we have done is as good as it gets.'

All that remains now is for Kewell and Liverpool to lift the trophy, which would draw comparisons to another famous Aussie helping the Reds to success back in 1986 when they beat Everton 3-1.

'I remember Craig Johnston running up and down the right wing in that final, becoming the first Aussie to win the FA Cup,' said Kewell.

'He scored as well, so it's a big ask to do what he did. I just hope we can do what that team did and win the cup.'