Valletta coach Jesmond Zerafa has called on his players to approach their match against Bala Town with the right level of concentration as the Citizens plot a way past their Welsh opponents in the Europa League first qualifying round tie at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday (kick-off: 8pm).
When the Europa League draws were made last month, expectations were high among the City fans that their team could see their way past a Bala Town side who have never managed to move past the first hurdle of European club competitions.
However, coach Jesmond Zerafa was quick to lower the club’s expectations for today’s match and said that he is expecting a very difficult test against a Bala Town side who are desperate to set new standards in European competition.
“Contrary to what many people might think, this is going to be a very difficult match for us,” Zerafa told a news conference.
“Bala Town may not enjoy a great tradition in European football but this summer they have worked hard to strengthen their team as they are desperate to write a new page in their club history by reaching the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
“They are a very physical side who like to play direct football so we need to be really focused right from the outset. Bala Town have strengthened their side with five new players as they want to give themselves the best opportunity possible.
“Personally, I think that there are no clear favourites for this match. It will be very important that we make the most of our strengths and try and take advantage of any deficiencies Bala Town might have if we are to win the match.
“I don’t see a clear favourite, the team who performs the best on the day will qualify.”
Zerafa said that he has no selection worries for today’s match, even though he did admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some problems in ensuring all players reach their best physical shape.
“It’s no secret that the situation caused by the COVID-19 has complicated our pre-season preparations,” Zerafa said.
“Some of the players that arrived from abroad couldn’t prepare for the season due to some restrictions.
“Taylon is one of the players who is still not at the best of his physical fitness, even though in the last week he has shown a lot of improvement.
“But he will be part of our squad and hopefully will play part against Bala Town.”