Following a goalless draw in the first leg in Andorra, Gzira United will be aiming for a win as they host UE Sant Julià in the second leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 20:00.
Only a win would guarantee a place in the second qualifying round as in case of another draw, the match would go into extra-time. A clash with HNK Rijeka of Croatia awaits the winner.
Two years ago, in the preliminary round of the UEFA Europa League, the Maroons defeated Sant Julià 2-0 in Andorra and 2-1 at the Centenary Stadium to make it to the next round with a 4-1 aggregate score. However since then the team from Andorra did considerable progress and, in fact, last week, they held the initiative throughout the ninety minutes.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Gzira coach Darren Abdilla said his players are well-prepared for this game and is confident they would make it to the next stage. Although they may start as favourites, he stressed that they would be keeping their feet on the ground. Abdilla said that Sant Julià proved that they can give Gzira a very hard time and therefore they could not underestimate their opponents.
“This is a delicate clash which could mean qualification to the next round. In the first leg, we suffered a bit but ultimately, the score remained 0-0 and therefore this second leg will determine the winner.”
“Definitely it will be no easy game although, on paper, facing a team from Andorra would seem easier. However the improvement shown by Sant Julià was clear. They can play an unlimited number of foreign players, including Spanish players, of quite a high level. It will not be easy but we are optimistic that we could make it. I think we have solved the mistakes we made in the first leg and are therefore looking forward to this match in order to perform as expected to qualify for the next round.”
Captain Steve Borg added that the experience several of the players in the Gzira squad possess could prove vital in this sort of matches.
“It will be a difficult game but considering that we are playing at home is an advantage and the fact that neither side managed to score in the first leg, everything is possible.”
Maxuell Samurai, who suffered a concussion in the first leg and had to be substituted, is the only player in doubt for the Maroons.
Meanwhile Sant Julià would be seeking a second qualification to a second round of a UEFA competition after eliminating Tre Fiori of San Marino on penalties in the UEFA Champions League in 2009.