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Tafazolli relishing FA Cup underdog tag

4 November 2015

Club News

Tafazolli relishing FA Cup underdog tag

4 November 2015

Stags’ defender Ryan Tafazolli wants the club’s 'unbelievable' supporters to again get behind the team as they head into the Emirates FA Cup tie with Oldham Athletic on Saturday as underdogs.

The 24-year-old is looking forward to Saturday’s clash with the Latics at One Call Stadium (3pm) and he wants the Stags' faithful to act as a ‘12th’ man as they face opposition from the league above.

“They (the fans) have been unbelievable all season and it does help when they’re behind us, I know it’s a bit of a cliché but they are like a 12th man," said the former Southampton academy player

“This Saturday, we are the underdogs and they are a bigger team so we’re going to need them to get behind us.

“They’re going to come here as favourites so we’ve got to be prepared for what they’re going to throw at us.”

Stags bowed out of last year’s competition in the second round, losing out to Cambridge United after a replay and Tafazolli says he would relish an extended cup run this season.

“Every player would like to do well in the FA Cup and draw a big team in the third round but I think this Saturday will be a massive test for us. It’ll be good to test ourselves against good opposition.

“When you get there on a Saturday, you don’t know what to expect from the opposition. It’s just a one-off game and a great opportunity to show everyone what we can do."

The 6ft 4in defender has been an ever present in the team after winning a spot in the team due to an injury to Lee Collins on the eve of the season.

However Tafazolli enjoys the competition for places between himself, Collins and Krystian Pearce and says it forces him to work harder. 

“My pre-season was a bit of a weird one because obviously Lee Collins and Krystian Pearce were playing but you never know what’s going to happen in football. You’ve just got to grab your chance with both hands, it’s been a good start to the season for me personally and for a lot of people so hopefully that can continue. 

“Those two are both exceptional players and we push each other every day. We know that, for example, whether it’s me and Lee Collins playing on Saturday or me and Krystian Pearce or Krystian Pearce and Lee Collins, we all know that one of us is just waiting for one of us to ‘muck up’ and come in. 

“So every time we go on the pitch we know that we have to play at 110% because we’ve got the other one breathing down our neck.”

The London-born defender is into his fourth season with the club and he says he has grown as both a player and a person during his time in Nottinghamshire.

“I think I’m mentally a lot stronger now. I’m a lot more experienced and I think I can read the game a lot better [now]. I’m better at everything now; better in the air, better on the ball and just better all round.”

You can view Tafazolli's news conference, in full, on Stags Player later.

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