Shefki confident of Town success
SHEFKI Kuqi's solution to staying a few steps of your rivals is simple – beat them, writes Derek Davis.The Blues go to Sunderland tomorrow looking to stay in the automatic promotion places and, no matter what today's results bring, the Blues will still be in the top two if they can win on Wearside for the first time in 15 years.
SHEFKI Kuqi's solution to staying a few steps of your rivals is simple – beat them, writes Derek Davis.
The Blues go to Sunderland tomorrow looking to stay in the automatic promotion places and, no matter what today's results bring, the Blues will still be in the top two if they can win on Wearside for the first time in 15 years.
Town's joint-top scorer Kuqi said: "It is always a good stadium to play in and I'm looking forward to going there, especially now as we are playing so well.
"We can open a bigger gap between ourselves and Sunderland if we win. It is not exactly a six-pointer but we will move eight points away from them, which is handy.
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"We don't really look at who is doing what. We just want to keep winning and then people can't catch us. A few weeks ago we were six points behind Wigan but now we are level, so things can close quickly.
"We have said many time before, if we are on our game we can beat anyone, and we just need to keep that going."
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Kuqi is level with Darren Bent on eight goals and believes, although the duo are beginning to click, they are still nowhere near their full potential as a partnership yet.
He said: "A great example of how we are now combining was on Saturday. I hit the shot which was saved but Darren was there for the rebound.
"We need to work together even more but we are getting better and better as a pair. The movement is getting better, whereas before we would make the same runs and get in each other's way. Now we are used to each other and it shows."
Kuqi won his 22nd cap when he played in Finland's 1-0 defeat by Italy in Messina and he is convinced Bent can win full England honours.
He said: "He can be anything he wants to be. People forget he is only 20 and he has many years ahead of him.
"He is a good trainer and works hard on his game and can go all the way."
Although he has eight goals, Kuqi has not found the target for two games in a row, which is nothing compared to former Town star Marcus Stewart, who has drawn a blank in the past nine Sunderland matches.
Kuqi empathises with his opposite number. He said: "It is difficult for a striker. It is the hardest place to play because you are judged solely on goals.
"If you are not scoring then fans get frustrated with you, you get frustrated with yourself and it gets worse.
"The good thing is both Darren and I are doing well. When I was scoring Darren wasn't, now he is scoring and I'm not, but it can change and we can both be scoring."
As if one Kuqi wasn't enough to frighten defences, Shefki's younger brother, 6'4'' Njazi Kuqi, is on the verge of signing for Birmingham.
The Blues hero said: "I have not seen him play for a couple of years. The last time was when he was here at Ipswich training with us.
"But people have been telling me how good he is and what a good player he is.
"I was told he was man-of-the-match for Finland Under-21's when they played Holland recently. So, hopefully, he can play in the Premiership and has a long successful future in front of him.
"There is along way to go yet for both of us but we are top of the league and it would be brilliant if we were playing against each other in the Premiership next season."
Keeping one step ahead of the chasing pack will ensure that becomes a reality.