Floriana host Tre Penne on Thursday

Floriana will be hosting SP Tre Penne of San Marino in the first leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 19:00.

The Greens are one of the three teams representing Malta in the competition after finishing in the runner-up spot in the BOV Premier League last season.

However, since then, Floriana went through a number of changes. Mauro Camoranesi is no longer the coach and players like Lorenzo De Grazia, Willis Furtado, Christos Rovas, Maksim Valadzko and Mateus Souza are no longer with the club.

The Greens have appointed Darren Abdilla as their new coach and signed goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi, defender Fernandinho and two forwards Anthony Obonogwu and Thiaguinho Santos.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Abdilla stressed that in such matches, one could not take anything for granted.

“In such matches, one could not take anything for granted as they come at quite an early stage after a long football season. The pre-season was not that long and therefore one would expect a difficult game.”

The new Floriana coach said that getting information about the opponents, especially when coming from smaller countries was not that easy.

“In the first leg, we are focussing more on ourselves, rather than our opponents. I am happy with the squad at my disposal – a strong and determined squad – and I am confident that as from tomorrow, we start reaping the fruit of the work over the past weeks.”

“Our objective will be that of getting a positive result and although on paper, we start as favourites, football is played on the pitch. However I am sure that if the players give their best, we will get a good result on Tuesday.”

“The target is to qualify for the next round. We did our best over the past month to be well-prepared for these matches. But then if we manage to qualify for the next round, we will set other objectives in view of a possible further qualification,” added Darren Abdilla.

With regards to the changes in the squad, captain Dunstan Vella said it was difficult to compare since this is such an early stage. However he is confident that Floriana will once again have a competitive squad as it was the case last season.

Floriana’s opponents, S.P. Tre Penne are based in the City of San Marino. They won the league five times, the last in season 2022/23 and the Coppa Titano six times. In July 2013, Tre Penne became the first Sammarinese team to win a game in a European competition by defeating Shirak of Armenia 1–0 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round. That was the only positive result ever in a UEFA competition as they lost the other twenty two matches they played since their first ever participation in 2010/11.

Last season, Tre Penne placed third in the Sammarinese league regular season, sixteen points behind champions Virtus and fourteen behind runners up La Fiorita, to enter the play-offs where they reached the final, defeating Murata 3-2 after extra-time.

Local clubs have managed to qualify for a second round in the previous five clashes between clubs from Malta and San Marino.

Should Floriana eliminate Tre Penne of San Marino, they would face top Portuguese side Vitória SC, better known as Vitória de Guimarães.

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