Hibernians FC will be looking to wrap up qualification to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League when they host AS Folgore, of San Marino, at the Centenary Stadium, this evening (kick-off: 8pm).
The Paolites head into tonight’s match in a strong position after their remarkable 3-1 win over the San Marino champions in last week’s first-leg tie at the Serravalle Stadium.
A brace from Jake Grech and another goal from Jurgen Degabriele put the Paolites well in charge and just need to avoid defeat in tonight’s match to breeze into a third qualifying round tie against either Latvian side Riga FC and Shkendija, of Macedonia.
Coach Stefano Sanderra said that tonight’s match was a vital clash for his club who have the opportunity to progress further in the UEFA club competition.
“This is a very important match for us,” Sanderra said. “We have the opportunity to progress to the next round of the competition and that is a target that is very important for our club.
“Qualification will be a huge psychological boost for our team who is trying to grow further. We are aware that it will not be easy for us and we will have to fight to reach our objective. Nothing is easy in life, we have to finish the job.”
The Italian coach said that winning in San Marino was very important but he feels that his team’s performance was still far away from what he wants to see from his players.
“I was happy with the win but there were some aspects of our game that I was not happy about them. We conceded a very sloppy goal… our defensive game must improve a lot while we are still far away from the kind of football I want my team to express,” Sanderra said.
“We have a number of new players who are still trying to come to terms with our playing system and that needs time. Added to that we need to improve our mental strength.
“But we are still a work in progress and the important thing is that we continue to work hard, and by taking one step at a time I’m sure that we will reach the level of performance I am looking for.”
For tonight’s match Sanderra is hopeful of welcoming back into the fray Brazilian midfielder Sergio Raphael.
The Hibernians coach said he expects his player to approach tonight’s match with one objective… to win the match.
“Our mindset has to be quite clear – we need to win,” he said.
“Although a draw will be enough, we have to think only to win the match. I want my players to be fully focused to ensure we finish what we have started in San Marino last week.”