Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra has hailed his team’s fighting qualities as the Paolites fans woke up with a huge smile on their face yesterday after watching their team overcome FC Vaduz 2-0 in the first qualifying round of the Europa League at the Rheinpark Stadion.
Jurgen Degabriele was the Paolites hero as the young striker scored a goal in each half to earn his team a deserved victory.
“This is a great result for the club,” Sanderra told the Times of Malta.
“This is almost an historic win as we have beaten a team who next season will be playing in the Swiss top-flight.
“I was really impressed by my players. They have followed my instructions to the letter and have put all their heart in it.
“I am really satisfied with what I saw, and this is fantastic day for us.
“I dedicate this victory to our president Tony Bezzina who has always been behind us.”
Asked what he thought was the secret behind his team’s performance in Vaduz, Sanderra said his players showed no real fear of their opponents.
“I believe that we were very clever to play our game irrespective of the strength of FC Vaduz” the Hibs coach said.
“Right from the start we didn’t revert to any defensive tactics, but we took the field with our normal attacking approach. We held the pitch very well and managed to play our game.
“Obviously, there were some difficult moments throughout the match, but we continued to play with our 4-3-3 game plan.”
Sanderra could not but single out the performance of two-goal hero Degabriele and said that the young striker deserved all the plaudits after the difficult time he went through in the last few years where he suffered two serious knee injuries.
“I am very happy for him,” Sanderra said of the 23-year-old striker.
“Jurgen Degabriele is a huge talent of Maltese football. During the last few months, he has put in a lot of hard work and he deserves all the praise that is coming his way.
“But all his achievements yesterday were the result of a team effort. One also has to mention the performance of our defence.
“Matthew Calleja Cremona had a great display in goal while our defence showed great organization.
“Added to that Leandro Almeida proved what a great player he is.”
Hibernians will now discover their next opponents in the Europa League on Monday with the second qualifying round matches scheduled for next month.
“I’m not thinking too much against who we can meet in Europe,” Sanderra said.
“Now the important thing is to put all our focus to the start of the Premier League which is again going to be very difficult. We have more work to do but certainly this win was a great start to the season.
“No doubt, winning against FC Vaduz injects a lot of confidence in our work and one good thing about this year’s format is that we can now further improve our physical condition before the second qualifying round is played.
“When we lost Bjorn Kristensen for a red card our energy levels reached their limit.
“But now we have time to improve and hopefully now we can arrive for the next round of the competition in a better physical condition which will put us with a good chance to perform at the highest level.”