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Hibernians coach Pisanu heaps praise on players after qualification in Estonia

Maltese champions Hibernians are one of three local teams that made history on Thursday when they made it to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

“First of all, I want to congratulate both Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United,” Pisanu told the Times of Malta.

“Well done to coach Branko Nisevic and to coach Darren Abdilla, because this is a remarkable result for Maltese football.”

Hibernians have now reached this round for the second consecutive year and just like last season, their next opponents hail from Latvia – FK RFS.

In the second round, Hibernians were pitted against Levadia Tallinn of Estonia who just like the Paolites had started their European campaign in the UEFA Champions League.

The Maltese side, who were eliminated by Shamrock Rovers in the main UEFA club competition, were upbeat about their chances ahead of this two-legged tie and their resilience came the fore as they secured their passage thanks to a home victory (3-2) and an away draw (1-1).

“This qualifications means a lot to us because we have faced a strong team and now we are in the third qualifying round of a European competition, which means that we have done something important,” Pisanu explained.

In his three games in charge of the Paolites since replacing Stefano Sanderra, Pisanu has guided the Paolites to a 0-0 draw against Shamrock Rovers and a qualification at the expense of the Estonian champions.

“I have to thank the players for their interpreting these three games in the best possible way,” the Italian coach said.

“Even against Levadia Tallinn, gaining a draw was not easy but we were determined to end up on the winning side.

However, we wanted to showcase our playing style and I believe that in the first half we could have already found the net on a couple of occasions.”

Pisanu, former coach of Sliema Wanderers, was pleased to see his team remain proactive despite going through a rough patch during game in Tallinn as well.

FK RFS are now Hibernians’ next opponents. They were eliminated by HJK Helsinki of Finland in the Champions League following a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 aggregate.

“We have a positive spirit for these games as we want to do well and so far we have achieved our goals,” Pisanu underlined.

“Now it is time for another step, which will be even harder because we will take on a very difficult team.

Nonetheless, we deserve to be here and we believe we can do well. Most importantly, we do our best so that we won’t have any regrets and we stay with our heads held high.”

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