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Maamria Looking Forward To Cup Fixture

7 November 2019

Latics kick-off their FA Cup campaign with a trip up north to take on National League North side Gateshead on Sunday.

Dino Maamria knows that his side could have got a worse draw but also acknowledged that the fixture could prove to be tricky.

As part of his preparaton the Head Coach was in attendance at the Gateshead International Stadium for the Tynesiders' comfortable win over Curzon Ashton on Tuesday night.

"I've watched their last couple of games and I went to watch them live just to get a feel for the stadium and the pitch. They're a good team, they play good football and they are not the typical physical non-league team that you would expect.

"They are more of a footballing team, they've got energy, they've got some decent players and some experienced players. They are a good team."

He added: "They're having a good season in the Conference North. One thing that we are guaranteed is they will play the game of their lives on Sunday.

"I will try and pick a team that will win. If I have to change one or two I will. Ideally I'm not someone who's going to change loads to the team.

"I will probably tweak one or two areas to improve them looking at the opposition and the circumstance of the FA Cup.

"So I've got certain decisions to make for the first time in a while but we're ready for it and we know what we are going to face.

"We know the players I have at my disposal and I'll make sure I pick a team to win on Sunday."

Gateshead boast an impressive home record this season and have won seven of their last eight games on home soil so Maamria is well aware that his side will have to turn up on day.

"The televised game tells you it is a potential banana skin, obviously they looked at the fixture list and thought a football league club going to a non-league club two divisions below could potentially be a tough one."

The Head Coach is also aware of the importance that games like these have for non-league sides and the implications both on and off the pitch.

"I've been there before where as a non-league club we look at those games and wait for it all season to get a team a division or two above you.

"Their players will be trying to prove they are better than our players and they are worthy of football league careers, there is no question they will be playing the game of their lives.

"What we need to make sure is their game is not as good as our game on the day, so that's what we've got to prepare for. We've got to be professional, we've got to get the basics right and we've got to play our football. If we do that we'll win the game."

He continued: "I think if you give anyone a chance to impose themselves on you they will give you problems, so I think as long as we go there with confidence and self belief with the building blocks of what we've been doing for the past two to three weeks then I think we'll be fine."

The lack of a midweek fixture has proved a welcome break for Latics, allowing Maamria to alter his training plan to suit their preparation for the cup competition.

"We changed the week slightly. It's actually quite beneficial, I've got more time to work with the players to work on certain things. We've also changed the training time as well to match the kick-off time.

"We are travelling on the Saturday to make sure that we are ready on Sunday morning. It is what it is, we are looking forward to the test as we got a good draw overall. It could be a lot worse, I remember last season my first game was Plymouth away and you couldn't wish for anything worse than that. 

"Ideally it would have been nice to have a home draw, we haven't got that, but one thing I know for sure is that our fans will support us in numbers."

Maamria also spoke of the proud history that Oldham has in the competition including the famous semi-final in the 90s. 

"The club has got a history. Oldham Athletic is based on FA Cup runs really, even if you look back in the day to the Manchester United semi.

"So it's something huge for the football club and something that is huge for me.

"I've got to make sure that translates to our players to emphasise the importance of the FA Cup."

Coming into the fixture Maamria will have his squad bolstered by players who are returning from injury and getting to full fitness.

"Chris Eagles came back last week and had a good game, his first full 90 minutes for a while.

"Egert is obviosuly still available after his recent suspension. Maouche came on last Saturday and I think he changed the game, he's back again from injury. So I've got one or two decisions to make this weekend. 

"I'm looking forward to it, we're all looking forward to the game, it's exciting and it will be fantastic to make sure we are in the hat for the next round."

Over 600 tickets have already been sold for Sunday's clash and know more than anyone how important the cup is to the supporters.

"Like I said, Oldham Athletic's history is based on FA Cup glory and we've got to make sure that's what this football club stands for moving forwards as well.

"We needed to create momentum, unity between us and the fans and it's something that we're going to use really well to get the club moving forward together.

"I'm looking forward to having our fans, with numbers, at the weekend. I think it should be a good game, Gateshead are well-backed too, so it should be a fantastic game of football and we're looking forward to it."

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