Quique Sanchez Flores: FA Cup is an important competition for Watford

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Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has highlighted how prestigious the FA Cup is to his players after they advanced to the competition's last-16 stage.

The Hornets defeated Nottingham Forest 1-0 on Saturday thanks to an 89th-minute goal from substitute Odion Ighalo at the City Ground, meaning they are just two wins away from a semi-final trip to Wembley.

Sanchez Flores did make seven changes to his starting line-up, while Forest boss Dougie Freedman elected to make eight, but the Spaniard reiterated the FA Cup's value to his squad after they progressed in front of 3,771 visiting supporters.

"We were talking with the players before in the meeting about how important it is to respect the competition," he said.

"It's a very important and historic competition in England. It's important to respect our fans - these 3,000, 4,000 fans follow us. It's important to respect these kind of things.

"But it's step by step, little by little; we're just thinking about the next match. We don't want to think too much forward, it's so far. At the moment the main target is the league but we are really happy."

The fixture also gave Sanchez Flores an opportunity to run the rule over players who have not had much of a look-in during their excellent start to the Premier League campaign.

Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon made his first appearance, fellow new recruit Nordin Amrabat was given a maiden start and Adlene Guedioura completed 90 minutes at his former home.

"I trust a lot in the players, they are working really hard during the week," Sanchez Flores added.

"I've been working five, six months with this team - they deserve to play a lot. I have to talk sometimes with individual players because it's very difficult to explain that they are training well but they don't play. I usually have 14 players during the match and some players are not playing but they are training well.

"It's very important to support the players, at the moment we need these players. I am very happy because we use maybe six, seven players who are not ordinary players, they play well with spirit and are really energetic."

Ighalo's late strike came after an error from home centre-back Kelvin Wilson and ensured Forest lost for the first time in 14 games.

However, ahead of his one-year anniversary in the job on Monday, Reds manager Dougie Freedman reflected on how far the midlands club have come in 12 months.

"There have been ups and downs, and huge challenges at this football club, but I think we're getting through the thick of it," he said.

"On the pitch you can see a very committed team, which I could never say when I first walked through the door - I thought we had a bunch of individuals.

"Looking back, I'm the manager now of a good team that's working towards progression every week. I'm very happy and very proud still to be the manager of Nottingham Forest."

Adlene Guedioura
FA Cup
Costel Pantilimon
Dougie Freedman

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