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Ħamrun Spartans ready for Ferencvaros battle in Conference League, says coach Zauri

Ħamrun Spartans players prepare for their UEFA Conference League tie against Ferencvaros. Photo: Ħamrun Spartans

Ħamrun Spartans coach Luciano Zauri said that his team was ready to face the challenge posed by Hungarian giants Ferencvaros when the two teams clash in the third qualifying round first leg on Thursday, of the UEFA Conference League at the National Stadium (kick-off: 7.30pm).

The Malta champions faced some daunting opposition in European football this summer as after going out to Israel’s Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, they managed to stun Georgian top side Dinamo Tbilisi and keep alive their dream of reaching the group stages of a Euro competition.

However, the Spartans are bracing themselves for a tougher challenge in the form of Ferencvaros and coach Zauri said that his players are ready to suffer in their bid to get a positive result ahead of next week’s second leg.

“We know that we are going to play against a strong team,” Zauri said.

“If you look at our European journey this season we were always the underdogs, against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League and Dinamo Tbilisi in the Conference League. But although Dinamo were the favourites we managed to knock them out and we are now ready for another stern test.

“We know that it’s going to be a different game against Ferencvaros as they are a team who like to attack and have great pace when pushing forward. Added to that they have some physically strong players which makes them dangerous in set-pieces.

“But we will be ready to go to battle and suffer when we need to. Our goal is to try and get a positive result and I believe that my team is ready to offer the best possible challenge to Ferencvaros.”

Asked to compare Ferencvaros to Dinamo Tbilisi, the former Lazio player said: “They played almost an identical playing system.

“If you had to see major differences, they have a bit more quality in attack than Dinamo Tbilisi and have more technical players. But the more you move forward in Europe you will meet with such strong teams and you have to be ready.”

For Thursday’s first leg, the Ħamrun Spartans coach has a full squad available with the exception of striker Uros Djuranovic who must sit out of this match to serve a one-match ban.

The Ħamrun Spartans coach said that he was proud of the excellent performance of his team in their 1-0 win over Dinamo Tbilisi last week but urged his players to make better use of the ball.

“It was a great team performance at Dinamo Tbilisi,” Zauri said.

“What I am sure of is that there were a number of instances where we could have done a better job with the ball. We ended up giving up possession too easily and that can prove costly against teams like Ferencvaros.

“However, if you look at the fighting qualities and determination shown by my players it was exceptional and they surely deserved their qualification.

“Now it’s important that we approach this match with the same spirit.”

On his part, Ħamrun midfielder Roko Prsa said that matches in Europe are always tough but said that the team has grown a lot this summer.

“This is our second season playing together, and surely we understand better each other,” the Croatian midfielder said.

“It’s true that now we are under the charge of a new coach but not much has changed from our style of play last season. We play a similar tactical set-up and maybe we are more prone to attack than we did last year.

“Against Dinamo, we showed a lot of character last week, particularly when we were with a player less in the second half. But we worked hard for each other and what mattered most in the end was that we managed to preserve a clean sheet that helped us to go through.

“It’s already a great result for the club to reach the third qualifying round but we are always hungry for more and we will try to keep this run going against Ferencvaros.”

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