Following a 2-0 win in Andorra, Gżira United will be all out to seal qualification for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League as they host UE Sant Julià in the second leg of the Preliminary Round at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 19:00.
Having a two-goal cushion, a draw or even a narrow defeat would suffice but Gżira look forward for another positive result.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla, who led the team to a third place in the BOV Premier League last season, said that after the end of last season, the club started working to strengthen the squad and after retaining all Maltese players, also making Zachary Scerri’s move a permanent one, the club secured the services of three well-established foreign players.
“We did not want to take any risks with foreign players and therefore signed three players who were already played well – Rodolfo Soares and Jorginho who have been playing here for a number of years and Thomas Veronese who played last year for Mosta.”
Abdilla is confident they can maintain the advantage over opponents in order to make it to next stage.
“We still have to keep our feet on the ground. Sant Julia are physically good and tactically disciplined. We have to respect our opponents and we need to seal issue as early as possible in the game.”
When asked regarding any possible changes to the line-up, Abdilla said “We have a 20 man squad – with sixteen players who could make it to the starting line-up. There could be changes, not due to the performances of particular players in the first leg but I may make some tactical changes. I am satisfied with performance of starting eleven and subs.”
Apart from the signings of Zach Scerri, Rodolfo Soares, Jorginho and Zach Scerri, the Maroons could make a further signing later this summer.
“I am happy with the squad at my disposal. We need something else to make the team complete. But we will play the last card later on as we still have almost two months left,” said the Gżira coach.
Captain Andrew Cohen added that he was satisfied with the team’s performance after five weeks of preparation. He said that in Andorra, they scored twice and created at least three more open chances and Sant Julià only created one opportunity thanks to a set piece.
“We need maximum concentration on Thursday to maintain the lead.”
“Making it to Europe was not the only objective but at least, we had reach a further round. We hardly knew anything about our opponents. It was a good achievement to win 2-0 abroad.”
The team which qualifies will be facing Radnički Niš of Serbia in the first qualifying round. The first leg will be played on July 12 in Niš. The return leg will be played a week later.