Yannick Bolasie has admitted his motivation to reach the FA Cup final is driven by the feeling he felt when he failed to make it off the substitutes bench in Crystal Palace’s last appearance at Wembley stadium – the 1-0 victory of Watford to seal the club’s Premier League place three years ago.
Bolasie returned from a hip injury to make a cameo appearance in Palace’s win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon. A victory over championship side Reading in the quarter-final will land the Eagles another Wembley appearance and Bolasie is determined to get onto the pitch at the national stadium.
Bolasie missed play-off victory but is determined to lead Eagles back to Wembley
The winger starred in the play-off semi-final victory over arch rivals Brighton, setting up Wilfried Zaha’s opening goal at the AMEX stadium, but then-manager, Ian Holloway, left Bolasie on the bench for the final, instead opting to play Jonny Williams on the left wing. Palace went on the secure a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Watford thanks to a Kevin Phillips goal in extra-time and although Bolasie was delighted to finally achieve his dream of playing in England’s top tier, he was upset at being an unused substitute.
The Congolese international said that he “didn’t get a chance to play at Wembley in the play-offs”, however, he also claims that the disappointment “pushed me on” to become a better player and lead Palace to their first major cup final for 26 years.
Bolasie had been sidelined since the 19th December having injured his hip while celebrating Chung-yong Lee’s winning goal at Stoke City, but he made his return at White Hart Lane and claims the 1-0 win could act as a catalyst to turn Alan Pardew’s side’s fortunes around following a poor run of form has seen them go winless in nine league games.
“After that win I think we have hopefully turned a corner,” claimed Bolasie. He added that “it’s been difficult being out injured at times and you get texts asking where you are and you don’t really want to talk.”
During Bolasie’s injury, Palace’s only victories came in the FA Cup, although both against Premier League opposition; Southampton and Stoke City. However, defeats against the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Aston Villa among the nine-game winless league run has seen pressure mount on Pardew and his side.