'FA Cup is important route to Europe' says Ramos

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The Independent Online

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Juande Ramos, is treating the FA Cup with the utmost importance and believes Reading will too, despite the comments of Dave Kitson this week.

Kitson claimed that staying in the Premier League is more important to him ahead of today's tie at White Hart Lane. But Ramos sees it as an important gateway to Europe.

"It is a beautiful competition," he said. "Above all it is important because it is a route into Europe and a way to win a title. We cannot give up on that route because we are behind in the League. It is difficult to get in the European places but in the cup you always have the chance of doing it."

Elsewhere, African Nations Cup finalists begin their preparations this weekend for the tournament in Ghana beginning on 20 January. The defending champions Egypt, who entertain Namibia today, are still sweating on the availability of Mido. The Middlesbrough forward has a knee injury.

Under Fifa rules, clubs must release their players a fortnight before the start of the tournament, setting Sunday as the deadline. But there are likely to be exceptions, notably Ghana's Michael Essien who officials said would probably be allowed to play for Chelsea against Tottenham on 14 January. The Nigerian Football Association have given Everton's Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo permission to delay their departure until after Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea.

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