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Gianfranco Zola: 'Promotion would benefit whole Watford community'
Gianfranco Zola believes securing promotion to the Premier League would benefit “the whole Watford community” but expects the race to go down to the final day.
The Hornets secured a crucial 1-0 victory at Hull City on Tuesday night to move within one point of the Tigers in the second automatic promotion place.
There are six games remaining and next up is former Watford boss Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City, who are currently eight points ahead of the Hornets at the top of the table.
Watford were 19th favourite to secure promotion in July before the season started and Zola is proud of his side’s success this season.
The head coach said: “It would be fantastic to achieve promotion with these guys. When we started this journey not many people would believe that we would be playing important games like this with six matches to go.
“We have worked very hard for this and I am proud of that.
“I believe it would be a great thing for the whole Watford community if we can achieve promotion. But it is going to be tough for sure.”
Baring a late collapse by Cardiff, it is likely that Hull, Watford and Crystal Palace will fight it out for the final promotion spot – with Ian Holloway’s Eagles six points below second place.
Just 12 points separate second and Brighton and Hove Albion in the final play-off place and it is even closer at the bottom; with six points between Birmingham City in 11th and Peterborough United in 23rd.
Zola said: “It will certainly go to the last game. You can see that around us; it is crazy.
“You can’t say that just because you have beaten Hull then all the games will be easy. We have had more problems with the smaller teams than the big ones this season.
“It will certainly go down to the end for everyone.”
Tuesday’s match with Hull has reignited their promotion hopes after a run of indifferent form and Zola and his players celebrated the win with the travelling supporters at the KC Stadium.
He said: “I am a very passionate person when it comes to football. It meant a lot for me because we have been close for most of the season and we have been playing some good football.
“In the last few games we didn’t get, what I believe, we deserved. So we came to Hull four points behind and a win meant a lot to me and for everybody.
“We put a lot of brain and a lot of passion into the game and the consequence was a very good result for us.”
There were also jubilant scenes in the Watford dressing room at the KC Stadium.
“The dressing room was an amazing place to be honest,” Zola said afterwards.
“Everyone was very excited. We wanted to win the game and we were really focused.
“Normally the players are very lively and chatty before matches but today you could see the tension and they really wanted this result.”
There are just six games and less than a month of the season remaining.
Tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) fixture with table-topping Cardiff City is followed by games with Peterborough United, Millwall and Blackburn Rovers, who are all at risk of relegation.
Zola stressed: “Every game will be very important. You can’t go up if you win an important game like the one against Hull but then you drop points against other teams.
“You have to win the important games and then continue to win and perform in the other matches.
“We are playing against the top side in the league on Saturday so it won’t be easy for sure. But we will do our best to win like we always do.”
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