Amanda da Costa: Our FA Cup semi at Anfield; Impressed by Coutinho; Europa League could work against Liverpool

Liverpool Ladies midfielder Amanda da Costa discusses the buzz ahead of an FA Cup semi against Arsenal at Anfield and her admiration for Philippe Coutinho.

Since getting the news that we'll be playing our FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal at Anfield, I can tell you everyone at Liverpool Ladies are absolutely buzzing.

Our team was extremely excited about the news and we're eager to start our preparations for the match. We know Arsenal is the team to beat right now, and playing such a worthy opponent in a venue such as Anfield is a dream come to true to all of us.

I've been fortunate to play at some wonderful grounds already during my career. I have stepped on the pitch at Red Bulls Stadium in New York, at the Home Depot Center in California, and some overseas venues in places like Argentina and Cyprus.

After officially being inducted into the Liverpool FC family and getting a tour of all the ins and outs of the stadium, I have never felt more closely knit to my team.

Personally I don’t just want to run out on the pitch at Anfield, I would like to win the semi-final at Anfield. The excitement of playing at the home of our mens squad is obvious, but we have a lot to prepare for and are ready for a hard week of training to make sure we are in top form.

To reach the semis, we had to see off a strong Sunderland team. They had been unbeaten in the Premier League and are used to winning games. We started the game off well and were on the board with an early goal from Lillie Billson. After halftime, Sunderland came out of the changing room eager to draw level - and they did just that within the first 10 minutes of the half. The game winner only came late from Katrin Omarsdottir, who came off the bench to make an immediate impact.

It was certainly a reality check and proved that while we have some amazing talent on the ball, we could also work harder for each other to get the job done. Good teams find a way to win tough games, and that is exactly what we had to do against Sunderland in the quarterfinal.

I'm pleased with the way I've adjusted to life here in Liverpool. The football culture has been great for me.

I am enjoying the professional atmosphere here at Liverpool - and with that comes training every single day. It feels good to finally be in a routine of strength training or technical training during the day, followed by team training at night. Even when we aren’t at the Academy for training, my teammates and I still consistently discuss the game and what we can do to be better as individuals, and as a group.

Being completely immersed in football all day every day is improving me both mentally and physically - though I can say off days are certainly a breath of fresh air when they come around!

Of course, here on Merseyside there's been plenty of debate about Liverpool qualifying for Europe and whether it would be a benefit for Brendan Rodgers' squad if they were to miss Europa League qualification. Certainly, Brendan Rodgers has discussed how not qualifying for the Europa League might actually be beneficial for the squad.

It's clear they have a good squad capable of competing with the top teams in the Premier League. But Liverpool also have made a few mid-season changes, with players still settling into their roles.

One of those is Philippe Coutinho, who I was particularly excited about seeing play. He is a younger player with a wide range of skill to bring to the squad, so it will be exciting to see how he continues to fit in with the likes of Luis Suarez and his fellow midfielders.

Each game he has shown improvement and I was impressed with his showing against West Ham United - especially in the first half. Positive things seemed to happen in the attack when Coutinho was finding himself on the ball.

His connection with Jose Enrique on the left flank has visibly improved since his first days in the Red jersey and he is so much fun to watch as his confidence is growing. He is the player on the mens side that I can most closely identify myself with, as far as playing styles are concerned, and I have learned a lot from watching him settle into his role.

This is always a fun time to be a football fan with all of this competition buzzing! The Liverpool Ladies are starting to get a taste of the competition as well. Moving steadily in both the Continental Cup and the FA Cup, and with the FA WSL season under way, thoughts of qualifying for the Champions League are looming.

It is important for us as a squad to realize that while we have come a long way since last season, we are still a brand new group of players. It is going to take a great deal of hard work this season from all of us to become comfortable with the different playing styles within the group, and I look forward to the game where everything seems to “click”.

 

FREE TICKETS TO THE BIG GAME

Organized groups from schools or clubs can apply for free tickets for children under 16 and group leaders. The Women’s FA Cup semi- final between Liverpool and Arsenal will kick off at 7pm on Friday 26th April.

This exclusive offer is available to all clubs and school groups with children under 16 years. This offer is made by the FA. Free tickets are also available for Liverpool Ladies home games.

To take advantage of this great offer simply email: [email protected] with the name of your school or club, the number of free tickets required for children, the number for adult group leaders and which match /matches you would like to attend. GET INVOLVED!

Follow Amanda: @ADacosta13.

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