Floriana are facing their biggest night in the club’s history when they face Flora Tallinn in the third qualifying round of the Europa League at the National Stadium today (kick-off: 7pm).
The Greens have already rewritten the club’s history books in European football this season as their 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland side Linfield earned them a place in the third qualifying round of UEFA’s competition for the first time ever.
However, tonight Floriana have the chance to reach where no other Maltese team arrived in Europe, a place in the Play-off round, but to achieve that they need to produce an impeccable display as they are up against tough opponents in the form of Flora Tallinn.
Flora are one of the strongest sides in Estonia.
The capital club have won three of the last five titles in their country and this year they are on course to reclaim the crown as they are currently enjoying a 13-point lead at the top of the championship.
Their team is based on home-grown players as the club has set its goal at developing the best Estonian talent and it’s no surprise that they can attract the best young players given that they can offer the best training facilities in the country.
Apart from their young talent, Flora also boast some important Estonian internationals such as goalkeeper Matvei Igonen, defenders Ken Kallaste, Marten Kuusk and Michael Lilander, midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev and striker Rauno Sappinen.
Floriana coach Vincenzo Potenza admitted that his team face a very tough test and has called on his players to produce the ‘perfect’ game if they are to rewrite the club’s history books.
“Flora Tallinn are an excellent side and we are aware that we are bracing ourselves for a very difficult match,” the Italian coach told the Times of Malta.
“They are a very young side with some great individualities. Added to that, they are in the peak of their season and on their way to capturing the league title once more.
“But despite the tough task on our hands, all I’m asking my players is to dare to dream. I want them just to imagine what the future will hold for them if we are able to overcome Flora Tallinn and reach the next round of the Europa League.
“To achieve this goal we need to play a perfect game but I have full faith in my players and I’m confident they will be up to the job.”
Floriana head into the match against Flora Tallinn on the back of two excellent victories over Linfield, in the Europa League, and Gżira United, in their league opener.
Potenza said that in both matches his team showed great spirit and resilience and made it clear that his players needed to show such character if they are to gain a positive result against Flora Tallinn.
“I have been impressed by the great character shown by my players in our last two matches against Linfield and Gżira United,” the former Senglea Athletic coach said.
“Against Linfield, we played a perfect first half but in the second half the team suffered Linfield’s fightback and we needed to show great resilience to bring the result home.
“Even against Gżira, there were long parts of that match, particularly in the first half where the team had to suffer but all the players hung on and our efforts were rewarded with a winner.
“Both these matches have shown that we have players with character and ready to fight for the club and that is the kind of spirit needed if we are to beat Flora Tallinn.
“True it’s a tough match, but in today’s football there are no easy matches. It’s up to show that we deserve to continue our European journey.
“For us, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have to make sure that we give it our best shot and hopefully it will be enough.”