Kovacs: It’s the biggest game of my life
TOWN defender Janos Kovacs has labelled Sunday’s Conference play-off final at Wembley as the biggest game of his life, writes Mike Simmonds.
After being on the bench the last time Hatters came up against York in the play-offs two seasons ago, the 26-year-old is one of the first names on the team sheet at Kenilworth Road these days and can’t wait for the match to come around.
He said: “I’m pretty sure it will be the best day of my life, I think it will be the biggest game in my whole life and hopefully the happiest memory as well.
“I try to calm myself down though because what you need to do is take it like a normal game and the preparation. What we do in the training sessions is to do everything absolutely the same as we do the game before.
“Nothing has changed, we don’t want to get carried away. Yes it will be a bigger stadium, a bit of a bigger crowd, but it’s just another football game.
“I was here two years ago with Luton when we lost against York in the semi-final, that was my first play-off experience. I didn’t play and was just on the bench both times, it was very disappointing, but now I have full belief that we will do it.”
Kovacs has never experienced Wembley as a player, but knew all about it as a youngster growing up in his home country of Hungary.
He has tasted the atmosphere inside the stadium as a spectator during the Championship play-off final last season too and admitted he struggled to hold his emotions in check.
The centre half continued: “Wembley. Everyone knows the word around the world. I was at the Championship play-off final last season, Reading against Swansea and it was amazing.
“I was in the stand and watching the game and nearly crying because it was unbelievable, the atmosphere in there, the pitch and everything was just top quality.”
Family and friends are flying over from Hungary to support the defender in his quest to return to the Football League, but he won’t be distracted by them on the day.
Kovacs said: “I have some family and friends are coming over, not too many, because it’s not that easy to organise these things as Hungary is not too close. The most important people will be here to support me from the stands.
“It might bring a little bit of extra pressure, but as soon as the warm up begins, we will have our heads on the game.
“Personally, I’m one of the players who switch all the pressure, all the noise all the extra bits and things on the pitch off. I’m pretty sure especially when first whistle goes, I’m just going to concentrate on the game.”
Kovacs’ supporters will be in among a mass of Hatter fans, with Town selling near enough 30,000 tickets for the game, displaying a passion and commitment that the Hungarian was in awe of.
He said: “It’s amazing to take 30,000 fans to Wembley, especially because at the moment, we are a Conference team.
“It will be a bit like a home ground and it can help us, as it always helps when you have more fans than away fans. If you look at the support they gave us through the league, our average at home games was six, seven thousand.
“I think this football club is much bigger than where we play football at the moment and fingers crossed a few days later, I can say we stepped up one level. But first of all we need to win the game on Saturday.”
Although York have enjoyed by far the better of recent matches between the two sides, Kovacs is confident Town can put a stop to that, especially as they have been transformed since Paul Buckle took over.
He said: “That is in the past, all that has gone. This season we played against York four times and we didn’t come out on top. But this is just one game, just one final, and I’m pretty sure we will be the winner on this one.”
The Minstermen have enjoyed a Wembley winning feeling as recently as last week, beating Newport County 2-0 in the FA Trophy, but Kovacs didn’t think it would have any bearing on the outcome.
He added: “You can see this from a positive point of few and a negative point of view. They have played an extra game than us, we have had extra rest than York.
“I’m pretty sure these little things can take you away from the most important part which is to win it on Sunday. It doesn’t matter how many days you’ve rested, we will go out and we will do the job.”
To read a special eight page play-off preview, see the Luton News/Dunstable Gazette on sale this Wednesday, while for all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.
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