The center referee that will call the shots in the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Watford has been made known by the English Football Association. Referee Kevin Friend has been chosen to be the man in the middle for the encounter. The final which will take place at Wembley will presents an opportunity for Pep Guardiola to claim a domestic treble if Man City see off competition from Liverpool to retain the Premier League title.
The match comes up on May 18 and will be the biggest game of Friend’s refereeing career so far. However, he has previously officiated the Community Shield at Villa Park and League Cup final at Wembley in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Speaking after the announcement was made by the FA, the Bristol-born referee stated:
“As a referee, the FA Cup Final is the pinnacle of your career. When you start out you never dream that you’re going to get the chance to take charge of a cup final, so to get the call this year is just fantastic.
“Every referee has goals and targets. There are certain games you want to be a part of and the FA Cup Final is definitely on that list.
“No matter what game it is, no referee can do it all on their own – it’s all about the team. This is a huge honour for us all and I’m really looking forward to it,” he concluded.
The other match officials joining Friend for the game will be assistant referees Constantine Hatzidakis and Matthew Wilkes. Graham Scott will act as the fourth official while reserve assistant referee will be Edward Smart. Andre Marriner will be performing the role of video assistant referee as VAR will be deployed for the game.
Historically, Watford has managed just four wins in 19 games with Friend officiating. The Hornets have also received two red cards in the process. But the Sky Blues have lost just twice in their 24 matches that Friend has taken charge, and he has never sent off a City player.
With the stakes being so high though, one can only hope Friend and his fellow officials will be at their best on the day as the officiating will be an important factor in who lifts the trophy at the end of the day.