Polish test for Valletta

Valletta will be hosting KS Ruch Chorzów of Poland in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 17:00.

In clashes between Maltese and Polish sides, the latter always managed to emerged as winners on aggregate, usually with high scores with Hibernians being the only team to beat Zaglebie Lubin 1-0 in an Intertoto Cup match in 2001. However Valletta are determined to do well in this first leg.

Besides the appointment of new coach Jesmond Zerafa, the Valletta squad was strengthened with a number of players namely defenders Jonathan Caruana and Ramon Dos Santos, midfielder Denni Rocha Dos Santos and striker Omonigho Temile.

Ramon Dos Santos and Temile have already played for the Citizens in the Euro Cup but for Malta international defender Jonathan Caruana and Brazilian midfielder Denni, this game will mark their debut. Brazilian striker Hercules Cardoso Ottoni who also played for the Citizens in the pre-season competition has been released. Edmond Agius and Kenneth Scicluna are ruled out injured.

Ruch Chorzów made it to the second qualifying round after defeating FC Shakhtyor Karagandy of Kazakhstan 3-1 on aggregate – a 2-1 win in Karagandy and a 1-0 win at home. Artur Sobiech, scorer of the second-leg goal, is ruled out as he is suspended after collecting two yellow cards.

KS Ruch Chorzów are one of the most successful football teams in Poland – 14-times national champion and 3-times winner of the Polish Cup. Last season, they placed third in the Polish top division – the Ekstraklasa, twelve points behind champions Lech Poznan.

They first took part in European competitions in the early seventies, reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1973/74 and the Champions Cup in 1974/75. Their last participation goes back to season 2000/01 when they eliminated Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania from the qualifying round of the UEFA Cup with a 7-2 aggregate score but then lost to Italian side Inter in the first round proper.

Valletta FC vs KS Ruch Chorzów will be controlled by officials from Israel, namely referee Menashe Masiah, assistant referees Danny Krasikow and Shabtai Nahmias and fourth official Moshe Buhbut.