George Boateng believes Sunday's morale-sapping FA Cup semi-final defeat by West Ham United FC may be the spur for Middlesbrough FC to raise their game and reach the UEFA Cup final at FC Steaua Bucuresti's expense.
As disappointing as our 1-0 defeat by West Ham was, life goes on. We can't be down because we have to pick ourselves up for Steaua. We need to remember how it felt to lose a semi-final and use that to inspire us. Our dressing room at Villa Park was so quiet we could hear West Ham celebrating next door. I felt absolutely sick and I would do anything not to be in that situation again. Sometimes when you have a setback, it makes you realise you're not there yet and you need to work even harder to go another step forward.
The past couple of days have been very hard, but yesterday I woke up and started to think about the game, and how we could put things right. This is the only chance we have to achieve something this season and we mustn't let it pass by. The good news is that this time it's a home game, and we've played some good football at the Riverside this season. Everybody in England has been behind Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League and I know for a fact they will get behind us now. It's very good for the country if you have two clubs playing in big finals. Even West Ham manager Alan Pardew shook my hand and wished me good luck and said he hoped we would win after the FA Cup semi-final. It was a nice touch.
The bad news for us is that we will be missing Mark Schwarzer. I can't stress how much of a blow it will be to have him missing against Steaua. Brad Jones is a good keeper, but the last thing you want to be losing at this stage of the season is your goalkeeper. He, with Mark Viduka, has been our best player in recent weeks. He's been keeping us in games on his own, not least the first leg against Bucharest.
Every week we've lost players for the rest of the season; first Gaizka Mendieta, then Emanuel Pogatetz, now Schwarzer. It's frustrating, but we just have to get on with it. Brad is a good stand-in, and we won't feel weaker with him, but to lose a player in form is painful. Viduka's been in great form and if he makes it tonight, people will see how much we missed him on Sunday.
'We're not tired'
We're confident we can get a result against Steaua. It's only 1-0 at half-time so all is not lost by any means. We've been through much more difficult periods and against much tougher opposition, not to take anything away from Steaua. Last week they played better and deserved to win, but we know that at the Riverside we can create a historic occasion. We're playing a lot of games, but we're not tired.
Tiredness is in the mind. Nobody will be too tired to play a UEFA Cup semi-final.
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