Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra says that his team
believes that they can overturn their tie against Estonian champions Flora Tallinn when the two sides meet in the second leg of the first qualifying round of the Champions League this evening at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 6pm).
The Paolites have a tough task on their hands to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the second qualifying round of the elite UEFA club competition after they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Flora Tallinn in Estonia last week.
Hibernians looked a good bet to secure a positive result in the opening leg when for the first hour they managed to contain the Estonian champions.
However, the game turned on its head on 73 minutes when Hibernians defensive midfielder Raphael was harshly shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Henrik Ojamaa even though TV pictures showed that the Brazilian had taken the ball.
Flora Tallinn soon made their numerical advantage count and scored twice through Rauno Sappinen to take charge of the tie.
However, despite the two-goal deficit Sanderra still believes the team can overturn the tie.
“We firmly believe that we can still qualify,” Sanderra told the Times of Malta.
“It’s going to be a very difficult task against a very difficult team who are very strong physically. But we have the belief of turning it around and I have no doubt that we have the qualities to cause them a lot of problems.
“It will be important that we remain focused and try and play our best possible match and hopefully Flora Tallinn can commit some mistakes so we can punish them.”
The Italian coach said that during the first leg, Hibs had shown that they can offer a stern challenge to Flora and described the referee’s decision to send off Raphael as ‘horrible’.
“The referee’s decision to send off Raphael has swayed the match away from us,” Sanderra said.
“For more than an hour, we had managed to keep them well in control but then when we found ourselves a man down, it was hard for us. Flora are in a far better physical condition than us and it made it harder for us.
“To be honest, this is not the first time that we have been penalised by a referee decision in European football, this is the third year in a row and that is getting a bit frustrating.
“We just want to have a referee that is up to the job, nothing else.”
The Hibernians coach said that his players need to be more adventurous against Flora Tallinn if they are to overturn the tie.
“We need to be able to be more creative upfront and do not
fear of pushing men forward,” Sanderra said.
“The team must hold the ball better and this time we have an added weapon in Wilfried Domoraud who will surely provide us with added punch upfront. He hasn’t had a lot of training sessions with us but he will be a good reference point upfront and help to create space for players like Jurgen Degabriele and Jake Grech.”