The current Watford manager is relishing the opportunity to face his old team-mate, and has told his players to enjoy their game against Premier League champions Manchester City, believing that all the pressure is on Mancini's side.
“No, I didn’t expect Mancini to become a manager,” Zola told The Telegraph, “because of the type of player he was – he was an intelligent player, of course, but I didn’t think he had the desire to become a manager. But I guess if you speak to some of my team-mates they’d probably say they didn’t expect me to either. I certainly didn’t expect it.
“It’s a job in which you get the spotlight all the time considering all the money they spent to build a team,” he said. “You know the expectation is quite high but I think he’s [Mancini] done very well. Money doesn’t guarantee you win things and he’s won the FA Cup and the Premier League.
“We will treat the Cup as a game that’s like a present for all of us,” he added. “The players have nothing to lose and I want them to show how good they can be."
Despite Zola believing that Mancini's leap into management was unexpected, the former West Ham boss understands that people are unsure of his own abilities as manager.
“I’m sure there are some people who still think I’m too much of a nice guy to be a manager but I’m certain that’s not an issue,” Zola continued.
“I want the players to enjoy their football as much as I did in my career and to make it enjoyable for those who come and see it.
“I keep saying of the players, they don’t respect people who make them feel afraid. They respect people who they know are doing something good for them."