Gżira United will make their first appearance in the UEFA Conference League on Thursday evening when they host Northern Ireland side Glentoran in the first qualifying round, first leg at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 7pm).
The Maroons are heading into this season’s competition with a revamped squad after the club parted ways with several key players during the summer’s transfer window.
In fact, Gżira United have parted ways with defender Luke Tabone, midfield duo Nicky Muscat and Steve Pisani as well as their front pairing of Maxuell Maia and Jefferson.
But despite the several changes in his squad, coach Darren Abdilla still sounded positive on his team’s chances of securing a positive result on Thursday evening.
“It’s not going to be a ne easy tie for us,” the Gżira United coach told the Times of Malta.
“Glentoran are one of the top teams in Northern Ireland but we have prepared well for this tie. We have been preparing for the past six weeks and had some good performances during friendlies so the spirit is good in our camp.
“The squad endured a lot of changes, so it was not easy for us to prepare for our participation in this tournament. But the new players are determined to leave their mark and have been working hard to adapt to our style of play. Hopefully, my players will rise to the occasion.”
Abdilla said that the main goal for today’s match was to ensure they remain well in contention for qualification in next week’s second leg in Ireland.
“We will take the field of play with a cautious approach and try to play our game,” Abdilla said.
“The most important thing for us is that secure a good result that will keep the tie open ahead of next week’s second leg.
“Glentoran are a typical British team who base their game on physicality so it’s important that we remain concentrated throughout the match. They have some good overseas players in the squad, particularly a Nigerian forward who is quite prolific.
“But in the end, we need to focus ourselves and try and get the job done.”
The Maroons will have to do without Brazilian defender Gabriel Mentz, who is recovering from injury, while Zach Scerri is out as he must serve a one-match ban.
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