The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

UEFA Europa League: We are the underdogs, but we can give Domzale a strong challenge - Balzan coach

Henry Brincat Thursday, 11 July 2019, 13:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Balzan coach Jacques Scerri looked optimistic yesterday ahead of today's first leg against Slovenia's Domzale at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm).

I am pretty sure that we can give them a strong challenge. We have prepared well during the last few weeks and that included a very useful training camp in Slovenia where we also played two good friendly matches against Premier League sides from Serbia.

"We believe we can do well. It is obvious they will start as favourites but we will be doing our best to obtain a good result, especially on my debut in European competitions.

"This is the culmination of hard work and dedication to the game wherever I have been coaching. It is also an honour for me to be leading this side in Europe after having led them to an FA Trophy victory in just 4 to 5 months at the club," he said.

Scerri said he has more or less the basis of last season's squad with four newcomers including well known goalkeeper Kristian Naumovski, formerly of Birkirkara. "I am quite happy with all the new faces," he remarked.

Anton Tagliaferro, club president, said he was happy with the results obtained by Balzan in Europe during the past five years. He said: "We did relatively well and now I am looking forward to this game. I hope we will keep the Malta flag flying as we will be aiming to get a good result - something to play for in the 2nd leg next week in Slovenia. But we will be taking one match at a time. And we will be concentrating solely on this home game."

Tagliaferro also believes that his side will be strong challengers for the league title this season. "I am convinced that we will remain a top club locally. I am sure we will be in the reckoning for the title," he added.

Team captain Steve Bezzina said today's match will be a difficult task for Balzan. "They are strong opponents. We had played them in a friendly match two years ago and we are aware that their level is high. We will give them due respect," he added.

Bezzina went on to say that they had a good pre-season in Slovenia. "We worked hard on physique and tactics. The matches against the top Serbian clubs showed that our work was not in vain," said.

Club sporting director Vladimir Simovic spoke about Domzale's record in Europe. He said that their best was two years ago when they reached the play-off stage only to lose against France's Marseille.


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