Champions Valletta will be aiming for a positive result as they host B36 Tórshavn in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round at the Hibernians Stadium on Tuesday, kick-off at 19:00.
After being eliminated with a 2-4 aggregate score following two 1-2 defeats to Newtown of Wales in the UEFA Europa League last summer, the Citizens are eager to bounce back and qualify for the second round where they would meet Red Star Belgrade.
Addressing the media on Monday, Valletta coach Paul Zammit said that pre-season training on May 26 and that he was happy with the team preparation as the players had been working hard. He said the team’s success was the hard work and players’ dedication, backed by the club administration.
Zammit said the team was strenghtened with two new foreigners apart from Steve Borg who returns to the club after spending last season with Aris Limassol. He said the players Valletta managed to sign were the players they wanted to strengthen the squad as the club had clear targets in matters of new players.
Apart from these three signings, Luke Montebello returns with the club after spending one year on loan with Tarxien Rainbows while young Namibian defender Ennio Mathews Hamuntenya returns from Naxxar Lions.
The Valletta coach admitted B36 are much more match-fit considering that they already played sixteen league games. They are currently fourth in the Faroese Meistaradeildin, twelve points behind leaders KÍ.
“We know their strengths but we know our strengths as well. Our main aim is to make it to the next round. We are in a much better situation than this time last season. We took the positive from last year’s experience. We will never underestimate our opponents but we will fight to make it,” said Zammit.
For Tuesday’s game, new recruits Leandro Aguirre and Santiago Malano are set to make their debut but Steve Borg is not available due to fatigue injury. Ryan Camilleri is also ruled out as he serves a four-match ban.
This will be the second time, B36 will be playing in Malta after defeating Birkirkara 3-0 in a UEFA Champions League qualifier in 2006. In Tórshavn, the clash ended in a 2-2 draw with B36 therefore qualifying with a 5-2 aggregate score.
Tickets will be sold until Tuesday morning from the Valletta FC club premises in Santa Lucia Street and from L-Amerikan in Republic Street.
The second leg will be played at the Gundadalur in Tórshavn next Tuesday.