Manchester United’s Odion Ighalo will use the pain of missing out on the 2016 FA Cup final as fuel for Sunday’s semi-final clash with Chelsea.
The striker suffered last-four heartbreak four years ago when playing for Watford, who were beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace to miss out on a showpiece showdown with his current club United.
Ighalo, on loan at Old Trafford from Shanghai Shenhua, described it as a “bitter” experience and he is desperate to avoid a repeat at Wembley this weekend.
“It was a difficult one to take against Crystal Palace, we lost 2-1 at Wembley,” the 31-year-old told MUTV. “If we’d have won, we’d have played United in the final.
“Unfortunately, we lost. It was a bitter one to take but this is an opportunity again in an FA Cup semi-final to make it right and go forward to the final.
“If I’m called to play, I’m going to give all I can to help the team win the game.
“Everybody wants to play against teams like Chelsea, big teams, and play well against them and, most of all, playing at Wembley and, you know if you win, you’re in the final.
“So, of course, it’s going to give you more to want to fight hard and make sure you give everything to win the game.
“To get to the final would be great for me in my life and my career. I missed out in 2016 and I have the opportunity to now get to the final with the club I’ve supported all my life.
“It would make my dreams perfect. It will be tough but we have what it takes.”
United have defeated Frank Lampard’s side on three occasions this term but Ighalo, who scored in the quarter-final win over Norwich City, is taking nothing for granted.
“We have beaten them three times this season I think, one in the Carabao Cup and two in the league, and we’re playing them now in the semi-final,” he said.
“All those games don’t count though. This is a different game which is going to be even tougher without the fans in the stadium.
“We have to fight from the first minute until the end. It’s always tough against them but I think, with the quality and momentum we have now, we are ready to go and to win against any team.”