Arouna Koné: Key to Wigan FA Cup final win over Manchester City is to 'suffocate my old friend Yaya Touré'

City midfielder and Wigan's top scorer have been close friends since playing for the Ivory Coast Under-19 side

Wigan must “suffocate” the performance of Yaya Touré, Manchester City's “lung”, if they are to stand a chance of claiming their first FA Cup, claims Arouna Koné.

The City midfielder and Wigan's top scorer have been close friends since playing for the Ivory Coast Under-19 side – Koné was a guest at a birthday party for one of Touré's children last Sunday – and Koné is all too aware of Touré's powerful ability.

"He is a really tough opponent, someone who thrives on possession, but if he doesn't have possession that frustrates him and that's something we will try and prevent," said Koné. "Yaya is like the lungs of the team – the vital organ. City are a great team but when he's there, there is something even more special. If we try and suffocate that lung then they are not the same team.

"When we played them [last month] we managed to do that. The service from the back seems to come through him and we had a system in which we were able to do that. If it hadn't been for one moment of individual brilliance we would have got something from the game."

A goal from Carlos Tevez settled the teams' April meeting in Manchester. But it was a fixture that gives some succour to Wigan, who enter today's game with their Premier League status hanging by a thread, as they enjoyed parity with their expensively assembled opponents for much of the contest.

Koné has admired Touré's qualities since being the end receiver of his service for the national youth teams. They are the only two from that side to have progressed to the senior ranks and now Koné, who is enjoying a fine debut season in the Premier League with 13 goals, will follow Touré in becoming the latest Ivorian to feature in the FA Cup final.

Since the final returned to Wembley in 2007 only the following year's fixture has not featured a goal from an Ivory Coast player. One came from Touré himself, the others from Didier Drogba. It was Drogba who first made Koné aware of the FA Cup, showing pictures of him celebrating one of his winning goals around the players at a national training camp.

"I'm aware of the Ivory Coast tradition in the FA Cup and I would love to maintain it," said Koné, who arrived on a free transfer from Levante in the summer.

The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, believes winning the trophy would mark a key staging post in the club's history, as well as a timely fillip for their relegation struggle. "You have to dream and the bigger the dream the bigger the achievement," he said. "Just arriving in the final is a photographic moment in the history of our football club. Winning a major trophy would take our club to a different level. We are all well aware what this could mean. There are a billion people watching this game.

"When I came here in 1995 there were around 1,500 people watching us in what is now League Two. We will be taking 21,000 to Wembley. It is a great example of how football can develop in a town and what you can achieve with it."

Koné will be given a lone striking role as Wigan chase a first goal against City in four years – they have not beaten today's opponents since 2008.

The make-up of the remainder of the side is less certain. James McCarthy and James McArthur are likely to have the job of suffocating Touré. McCarthy adroitly handled the threat of Gareth Bale in the recent draw against Tottenham.

Martinez's major issues have been in defence, although injury means he may have little choice but to field the same line-up that conceded three goals against Swansea in Tuesday's calamitous defeat.

"The defensive problems are something we need to accept and find solutions to," said Martinez. "I have never seen anything like the injury situation we have. But we won't use it as an excuse. We need to find the answers."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness