Gżira United will be in search of another European fairytale when they face Radnicki Nis in the UEFA Conference League second leg tie on Thursday evening at the Cair Stadium (kick-off: 7pm).
Last week, the Maroons were so close to clinching a crucial victory over the highly-quoted Serbian side as two quick-fire goals from Maxuell Maia put them 2-1 ahead.
However, a goal from Maka Gakou deep in stoppage time handed Radnicki a crucial equaliser that keeps the tie firmly in the balance although the Serbians will start today’s match with a slight edge as they will be playing in front of their own fans.
But Gżira United have shown in recent years that they are capable of producing stunning comebacks in Europe as their win at Croatian giants Hajduk Split clearly shows.
On Thursday night, another big performance is needed and coach Darren Abdilla said that his team’s encouraging showing in last week’s first leg fills the Gżira clan with belief that they are capable of progressing to the next round.
“There is belief in the group that we can progress to the next round,” Abdilla told the Times of Malta.
“If you look at how the match developed last week, I was really pleased in particular with the attitude of the players.
“They knew that they were facing a more-quoted team but if you analyse the match the gulf in class between the two sides was not so evident.
“Mentally, the players are more prepared now and believe that if we can reproduce the same level of performance, we showed in the first leg we are capable of progressing to the next round.”
For Radnicki, today’s match is make-or-break for their European ambitions and are likely to go out with all guns blazing in search of an early goal to take control of the tie.
Abdilla said that it was crucial for his side to show defensive organisation but talked up the importance of making good use of the ball.
“There is no hiding that we need to be tactically very organised if we are to get the result we need,” Abdilla said.
“But there is more than that as we believe that if we are fully concentrated and do not let the opposition dictate the match it will be less difficult for us. So, good possession football will be crucial for us.”
Whatever happens this evening, Gżira United’s performance in the UEFA Conference League has been another proof of the club’s improvement in recent years in European football and Abdilla said that all is the result of the diligent work conducted by the club.
“It is evident that the work we have been doing in recent years is reaping the desired dividend,” Abdilla said.
“I don’t think that it came by chance that in recent years the team was so consistent in each performances with the result that we have always been among the best teams in the Maltese Premier League and achieved so many positive results in Europe.
“Hopefully, we can continue to build on this.”
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