RADHI Jaidi has challenged his Under-23s to make the sacrifices they’ve made worthwhile in tonight’s International Cup semi-final.

The youngsters will play Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb’s U23s at St Mary’s this evening, knowing that a win will see them go up against Bayern Munich in the final.

And Jaidi, who has also guided his team to the top of the Premier League 2 table, wants them to make their performance count.

The U23s' boss said: “It’s a very good opportunity for the boys.

“We have been working hard this season and with a lot of sacrifices to put them in these types of situations.

“It’s a semi-final against a good team [Dinamo Zagreb] who we played in the group stage.

“We know the team we are playing against and we know ourselves. It’s about going out there and enjoying it.

“The level of excitement is high. The boys have come from far and they live and survive for this kind of opportunity.

“It will be difficult for the ones who are not going to start but that’s football.

“The good thing is that there will be a good number of fans cheering on the boys and supporting us.

“That will be a perfect environment for them to learn and develop.

“They have played at St Mary’s against a Premier League team, but not the right numbers, so it’s something I’ve been mentioning for months now.

“It’s a great opportunity for the boys to experience at least a little percentage of what the first team boys experience on a weekly basis.

“It will give them a little boost of confidence but also steps forward in their development.”

The Under-23s have already beaten Dinamo Zagreb in this year’s cup competition.

They both met at Staplewood back in the group stages, with Jaidi’s team running out 1-0 victors courtesy of a Sam Gallagher goal.

However, the former Saints defender doesn’t think the victory counts for anything.

“It’s a cup game and each game is different,” he continued.

“They made their way back to get to the semi-finals, so surely something has changed about them.

“We watched them in their last three or four games and there is a change of personnel and a change of approach.

“We have prepared really well for that and we will be putting our plans in action tonight to get something from it.

“I put pressure on the players on a daily basis.

“I have been there and have played against teams in front of a crowd of 120,000 which is pressure.

“I try to replicate that pressure on the boys on a daily basis by demanding and creating a challenging environment.

“Their desire to achieve things this season makes them forget about the pressure.

“It’s more about the high expectation and stress around it. As soon as we manage that, we will see something really good.”

With the Under-23s’ campaign nearing its end, Jaidi wants them to make sure they end it on a positive note.

“The international cup is the outcome and result of what we have done throughout the season. We didn’t manage to go to the semi-final of this competition before and we didn’t manage to go top of the Premier League 2, but now we are,” he added. 

“Why? Because the players are making marginal gains and our results are the outcome of that maturity.”