18 April 2012
Published in the News on Wednesday 18 April 2012
Karim Rekik snuffed out the threat of Crystal Palace dangerman Wilfried Zaha and vowed: There is still hope.
The Dutch teenager fought fire with fire to nullify the speed and trickery of one of the English game’s rising stars last night.
Rekik used his own turn of pace to handle Zaha and help Pompey earn a 2-1 win thanks to his man-of-the-match performance.
That saw the 17-year-old bounce back from being given a tough afternoon by James Coppinger at Doncaster on Saturday.
The on-loan Manchester City ace never gave Zaha an inch to breathe and was key to Michael Appleton’s side getting the vital win.
Rekik believes the result gives Pompey hope they can stay in the Championship with two games remaining.
And he was pleased he was able to play a major role in ensuring the Blues’ battle for survival continues.
‘Of course there is still hope,’ said Rekik.
‘Bristol City have drawn and are looking at us. It’s on to them.
‘I was pleased with my performance because he (Zaha) is a great player.
‘He didn’t do too much and there wasn’t so many opportunities for him.
‘But we can’t win the games with one player. It’s a team performance with 11 players.
‘He’s very quick but I think I am quite quick as well.
‘It was more about watching his stepovers and everything, where you need to focus on the ball. It went very well for me.
‘It was hard for me at Doncaster, but with the crowd here behind you that helps.
‘It’s true I’m more a central defender but I can play left-back or defensive midfielder. The experience of being here is helping me as a player.
‘It’s helping my abilities and it’s helping me to grow.
‘It’s helping me to be a better player.
‘Just let me play and I will do my job.’
Appleton has tried to do as much as possible to keep the weight of expectation off his men throughout the final weeks of the season.
Rekik feels the Blues put expectancy on themselves to deliver all the time there is hope they can survive.
The defender reckons the greater weight rests on Bristol City, though, with the Robins – who drew 1-1 with promotion-chasing West Ham last night – having their fate in their own hands.
The Dutchman believes Derek McInnes’ side will now be looking nervously over their shoulders following back-to-back wins for Pompey.
He said: ‘We just need to look at our games.
‘The pressure is never off. Until we are mathematically relegated, there is the same pressure to win games.
‘We need to win every game.
‘The pressure is more on them, though, because they thought they were safe and Portsmouth are down.
‘It’s not like that, though, because we never give up.’
Report from the News April 19, 2012
Comeback-kid Karim Rekik has earned praise from Michael Appleton after bouncing back to star in Pompey’s survival push.
The 17-year-old endured a painful afternoon at the hands of Doncaster Rovers’ James Coppinger last weekend during which he was mercilessly tormented.
It represented a harsh lesson for the left-back who was spared more misery by being substituted in the 76th minute for Marko Futacs at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Despite those disappointments, Rekik responded with a man-of-the-match display against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
He firmly applied the shackles to highly-regarded dangerman Wilfried Zaha as the Blues ran out 2-1 winners.
That result keeps Pompey in the hunt to avoid relegation, with two matches of the season remaining.
And Appleton is looking to the Dutch under-17 international to maintain such impressive form during the crucial run in.
He said: ‘Karim did well playing against a top young player who a lot of people are interested in at the minute.
‘He was below par on Saturday so I was pleased with him on Tuesday.
‘We got a response from him and he defended one-versus-one really well.
‘There are not that many people that can do that against Zaha. He has made a lot of defenders look silly over the last 12-18 months and looked up for it against us.
‘So that is even more positive for Karim, who never let him in the game.
‘The lad is a natural centre-half and I think he and Jason Pearce get in the way of each other at times. But that is where we are at the minute having to take opportunities with young players.
‘Against Palace it was one where you saw him more defending than attacking, so certainly we saw more of him and what attributes he has got defensively.
‘Although, I think in other games, we have seen more of him attacking-wise.’
That Keepmoat Stadium display was comfortably the most disappointing for Rekik during his current six-match run.
Nonetheless, Appleton has sympathy for the Manchester City youngster who continues to impress at Fratton Park.
He added: ‘The situation of the (Doncaster) game and to concede two goals in five minutes had a big part to play in Karim’s performance.
‘He has just turned 17 and what Doncaster did really well was they kept putting the ball in behind him early doors, and it was difficult to get out at times.
‘Karim has been great, though. He’s a good kid who enjoys coming in training. He’s got a big future, but City know that.’
PHOTO : Karim Rekik in action against Doncaster Rovers away April 14, 2012. A match which Pompey won 4-3.
March 22, 2012
Pompey have signed 2 Manchester City youngsters on loan for one month subject to clearance by the Football League. article hereCentral defender Karim Rekik (17) and Forward Luca Scapuzzi (20) both come highly rated from Roberto Mancini’s title chasers.