Gżira United will be looking to continue their giant-killing run in the UEFA Conference League when they travel to Austrian side Wolfsberger in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League, first leg tie on Wednesday evening (kick-off: 7.30pm).
The Maroons start as heavy underdogs in this tie against a Wolfsberger side who in the last few years have reached the group stages of the UEFA Europa League twice, in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
However, the Gżira United clan have travelled with the belief that they are capable of putting a strong challenge to the Austrian Bundesliga side, particularly after their stunning victory in a penalty shoot-out against Serbian side Radnicki Nis last week.
Coach Darren Abdilla admitted that the win over Radnicki has injected a lot of enthusiasm in the club but warned against any form of complacency when facing Wolfsberger.
“After the historic qualification against Radnicki Nis, everyone who is involved in the club is on cloud nine at the moment and the morale among the players is very high ahead of this match,” Abdilla said.
“However, it’s going to be very important that we keep our feet firmly rooted to the ground and do not think that this is going to be an easier match.
“Wolfsberger are a very strong side and it’s crucial that approach the match with the right mentality.
“Our opponents are very similar to us in the playing system they adopt. In fact, they play 3-5-2 like we do, and they press very high. They are very strong both from a physical and technical aspect.
“Added to that, their squad is blessed by a few international players, one from Georgia and another from Israel while they have also members of the Austrian U-21 side, so for sure they are a quality side.”
While on paper, Gżira United seem to have a very difficult task to get a positive result against Wolfsberger, Abdilla said that the key for his players is that they believe in themselves.
“I have been speaking a lot with my players in recent days, and my message has been very clear. They need to believe in themselves.
“At the end of the day when they will take the field of play 11 vs 11 and that we are capable of matching them,” Abdilla said.
“I firmly believe that if we show grit and determination we can achieve much more than many people think.
“We have already rewritten the club’s history books by reaching the third qualifying round. Now we can further set higher standards with a Play-Off round at stake and it would be a huge honour for any player and coach that will play a part in it.
“I am sure that if the players will not stop fighting and keep battling in the end, we will be very close to make this dream a reality.”