Mokoena: Chelsea hasn’t hammered our belief

Aaron Mokoena looks on as Juan Mata puts Chelsea ahead before the hosts recorded a flattering 4-0 win over Pompey on Sunday Picture: Barry Zee

Aaron Mokoena looks on as Juan Mata puts Chelsea ahead before the hosts recorded a flattering 4-0 win over Pompey on Sunday Picture: Barry Zee

Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler

Roberts: Pompey have handled heat - can title chasers?

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Has a 4-0 defeat ever bred confidence before?

It’s doubtful – but Aaron Mokoena insists Pompey’s weekend display at Chelsea will boost the Blues for tomorrow’s visit of West Ham.

The scoreline against the Premier League big guns failed to tell of how Michael Appleton’s men performed at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues had chances before and after Chelsea broke the deadlock three minutes after the restart in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie.

Three goals in the final five minutes put an unbalanced sheen on the game’s outcome.

The manner of Pompey’s display offered cause for encouragement, however.

Mokoena is adamant the confidence bred from a run of a single defeat in seven in the league is still in place after the performance in west London.

And the South African feels there is the belief Pompey can extend their run of seven unbeaten games at home against the second-placed Hammers.

Mokoena said: ‘We have been on a great run and we wanted to build on that on Sunday.

‘But we had to expect a tough game at Stamford Bridge, to be fair.

‘There’s credit for the players in the way they stuck together, though, and were professional.

‘We forget about that result now and refocus on West Ham.

‘We didn’t see the scoreline coming at Chelsea because they were looking frustrated – and we had chances.

‘The most important thing is how we come back from this now.

‘That’s it, really. We have forgotten the result but take how we played in the game forward.

‘So it’s back to the drawing board and work hard for West Ham.

‘There were positives to take from the game. That’s what we have to do to move on.

‘It was frustrating for the back four to concede four goals.

‘But we’ll bounce back with the character we have in the team.’

Mokoena revealed the short reign of Appleton, 36, has already seen the squad united behind the new manager.

The 31-year-old paid tribute to the existing coaching staff and the continuity they have brought in the wake of Steve Cotterill’s exit to Nottingham Forest.

Mokoena, who has started Pompey’s past three matches, said: ‘Michael knows the game and he’s played the game.

‘He understands it. He is a great motivator and can get the most out of the players. That’s what we need.

‘To do that and have the experience he has at his age is important.

‘Surrounding himself with Stuart (Gray) and Guy (Whittingham) has also helped him because they play massive roles.

‘When Michael came in, he managed to bring everyone together and create a team spirit.

‘That’s what the manager needs to do, and he’s doing it very well.’

Pompey fans are still waiting apprehensively to hear news of what the outcome will be in the search for new owners.

Italian Joseph Cala has this week emerged as a contender to take over the club.

Mokoena acknowledges time is of the essence on that front, with new additions needed before the transfer window closes this month.

But the former Blackburn defender says the Pompey players are sticking to focusing on affairs which happen on the pitch.

He said: ‘With us, it’s about affecting what we can affect.

‘We have to concentrate on doing what we do best.

‘Hopefully then we can affect what is going on on the pitch.

‘We have to aim high, focus on the games and hope the rest sorts itself out.

‘Of course we need new owners and it’s obvious we need new players.

‘We need that to do well in this league. It’s a tough league.

‘The manager needs backing and new players to choose from.

‘We could do with some support, but we will do what we can do on the pitch and hope the rest gets settled soon.’

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