'Everyone thinks it’s our fault – but it’s not': Portsmouth boss sets record straight on delays in naming Spanish friendly opposition after Qatar SC confirmation

Danny Cowley insists Pompey were not responsible for delays in naming their Spanish friendly opposition.

Signifying the Blues’ third pre-season friendly, supporters will be allowed to attend the Pinatar Arena Football Center encounter, which kicks off at 4pm Spanish time.

However, the lateness of the fixture’s confirmation – 10 days beforehand – has angered a number of Pompey supporters, who would have booked time off work and attended if given advanced notice.

According to Cowley, however, the match was organised a fortnight ago – while previous opposition from the Premier League pulled the plug on the original friendly.

Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘The truth of it is we had a Premier League club lined-up to play, but they then changed their dates.

‘That was going to be on the Saturday, but they changed their flights, which is a shame for us because we’d have liked that game. At the same time, I have never played a team from Qatar before.

‘Instead we organised the Qatar SC game, but were unable to announce it until receiving permission from Fifa as it’s a team outside of Europe.

Pompey players have been in pre-season training since last week and on Monday fly out for a week-long stay in Murcia, Spain. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Those are the rules, I don’t know why, and that took two weeks before being confirmed.

‘We had been chasing Fifa and couldn’t announce anything in the meantime, so ended up getting hammered by supporters and everyone thinks it’s our fault – but it’s not.

‘Looking at it, we could have played a number of English teams over there, but it would have had to be on the Friday, which ruins our programme.

‘Our preference is to give players a day to recover following a game. So if we played on the Friday, we wouldn’t be able to train on the Saturday.

‘As a result, we wanted a Saturday game before flying back on the rest day on Sunday, which effectively gives us one more day of training.’

Pompey’s friendly schedule kicks off on Saturday with their traditional opener against the Hawks at Westleigh Park (3pm).

Then, 24 hours later, the Blues travel to Gosport Borough (3pm) – with Cowley explaining the same squad will be involved in both fixtures.

He added: ‘Our first-team squad will play both games, with 45 minutes in each, so they each total 90 minutes over the weekend.

‘Our Academy players are not ready to play at that level yet. However, our third-year scholars and first-year pros (Toby Steward, Harry Jewitt-White, Alfie Bridgman and Dan Gifford) will be involved in both.’

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