Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra has sent a rallying cry to his players ahead of the UEFA Conference League first leg tie against San Marino champions Folgore on Tuesday night (kick-off: 9pm).
The Paolites, following their elimination from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Flora Tallinn, have now dropped to UEFA’s newly-formed competition alongside Malta’s other two survivors Birkirkara and Gżira United, and will bid to try and reach the third qualifying round of the tournament.
No doubt, Folgore is surely an opponent that is well within the reach of the Maltese club and coach Stefano Sanderra said that he hopes his players will show their real selves against the San Marino champions.
“This is a real opportunity for us to show who are Hibernians FC,” Sanderra told the Times of Malta.
“We need to focus on our game and try and bring out the best of our qualities in this tie. Against Flora Tallinn we were too defensive and struggled to keep the ball. Now against Folgore, I believe that we can be more ourselves and try to express our football.
“I am sure that the team will show a better level of football as our physical condition is improving and hopefully we can win both legs to progress to the third qualifying round.”
The Hibernians contingent left Malta yesterday and Sanderra has left behind him Albanian attacking midfielder Erjon Beu who is not physically fit for the tie but new signing Ibrahim Kone, the Guinea goalkeeper who joined the Paolites last week, is part of the squad.
Folgore, like Hibernians, competed in this season’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers where they were eliminated in the preliminary round against Kosovo side Pristhina.
Since that tie in June, the San Marino outfit have brought in a number of new players, namely defenders Giovanni Bonini and Piero Tamagnini and forward Yaya Jassey.
Sanderra said that he wants to see his players play more as a team and try to impose their game to ensure they always keep control of the tie.
“I want to see a major improvement from my players in this tie,” Sanderra said.
“Holding control of possession is very important in these ties, something which we failed to do against Flora where we were too focused to defend.
“We need to be more ourselves, play with aggression and keep control of the match with a good possession rate and try and make the right decisions when we attack.
“I have a lot of faith in this team and I believe that we can show our superiority if we play the way we want.
“Our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We need to believe in our qualities more and I am sure that a win against Folgore in the first leg could be a game-changer in our European adventure this season.”