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Gżira United must show character against Dudelange says coach Abdilla

Gżira United players pose for a team photo on the eve of their second-leg tie against Dudelange.

Gżira United will have their eyes firmly set on protecting their two-goal advantage over Dudelange when the two sides meet in the second qualifying round, second leg, in Luxembourg on Wednesday (kick-off: 7.30pm).

The Maroons are sensing an opportunity to match last season’s historic run in the competition when they had reached the third qualifying round, as they head into today’s match with a healthy advantage following a 2-0 win at the Centenary Stadium last week.

Goals from Lucas Macula and a world-class strike from Zach Scerri have given Gżira United the belief that they can upstage their Luxembourg opponents and coach Darren Abdilla is urging his players to show the same grit and determination in the first leg to finish the job.

“I believe that we have a real possibility to progress,” Abdilla told the Times of Malta.

“But to achieve that we need to replicate the spirit and determination that characterised our win in the first leg at the Centenary Stadium. In the first match, I was impressed by my team’s tactical discipline as well as their work ethic.

“It seems like my players have a point to prove this summer and that is being mirrored by their performances in Europe which have been outstanding, to say the least. Dudelange remain a very good side and we can’t afford to face them with any kind of complacency.”

Gżira United are set to face contrasting conditions to what they had in the opening leg in Malta last week.
In fact, while hot and humid conditions characterised the first leg at the Centenary Stadium, the weather conditions in Luxembourg at the moment with rain and cold temperatures hitting the central European country.

“It’s going to be a different match from last week,” he said.

“I’m expecting Dudelange to come out with all guns blazing and try to put pressure on our defence right from the word go. The most important thing for us is that we show the same discipline and organisation we produced last week.

“Dudelange are a team with a quite good pedigree in Europe. In the first qualifying round, they knocked out St Patrick’s of Ireland, winning both matches, and that says a lot about their qualities.

“But on the other hand, we too have our strengths and it will be very important to make the most of them. Having a two-goal advantage will give us the opportunity to play a more containing game.

“We need to close all spaces in our half to make sure that we make it difficult for them to create scoring chances. They have good quality players that are technically very good so we need to be ready.

“But on the other hand, we too have our weapons. We will try and catch them on quick transitions. It worked against Glentoran in Northern Ireland and we hope to do the same tomorrow.

“This is going to be a real test of character for my players but I believe that if we show the same spirit and determination we can finish the job.”

The Gżira United coach is boosted by the return of two key players in his squad. Brazilian defender Gabriel Mentz is back with the squad after recovering from a knee injury while Ewertton has regained full fitness after picking up a knock against Glentoran.


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