Connect with us


Ħamrun coach Zinnari banking on team spirit as Spartans face Lincoln Red Imps in Euro opener

Ħamrun Spartans coach Alessandro Zinnari (centre) with club captain Steve Borg. Photo: Ħamrun Spartans FC Media

Ħamrun Spartans will start their European adventure when they face Lincoln Red Imps, of Gibraltar, in the UEFA Champions League, first qualifying round, first leg at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday evening (kick-off: 6.45pm).

The Malta champions are looking at their participation in UEFA’s elite club competition with cautious optimism as they sense that there is an opportunity to clear the first hurdle and boost their chances of playing in the group stages of a European competition.

Still, they have a tricky task on their hands as they take on a Lincoln side who in 2021 became the first team from Gibraltar to reach the group stages of the UEFA Conference League and also possess a squad of players that have great experience in playing these kind of matches.

Ħamrun Spartans coach Alessandro Zinnari is keen to help the team produce a strong display and secure a positive result in what will be his competitive debut at the Malta champions since replacing Luciano Zauri as first-team coach.

“We are aware that this is a very important match for our club,” Zinnari told the Times of Malta.

“The club is representing Malta in the most important UEFA competition and we are keen to produce a strong showing and achieve qualification to the second qualifying round.

“Contrary to what some might think, Lincoln Red Imps will be very tough opponents who last season gave a good account of themselves and were unlucky to be ousted from the Champions League after two excellent performances against Kosovo side Ballkani.

“It’s going to be a great test for us but we are determined to show all our best qualities to get the result we want.”

Zinnari said that the main goal for his team was very clear – to qualify for the second qualifying round – and they are certainly not underestimating their opponents.

“We are keen to qualify for the next round and that is our starting point,” the Italian said.

“There is zero chance that will we underestimate the threat posed by Lincoln. They are a very experienced team who know what to do in European matches.

“Since the Champions League draw was made I have analysed well the strength and weaknesses of our opponents  and will do all we can to put them under pressure.

“Luckily, I know the majority of the players that have remained at Ħamrun Spartans and together with the new signings we have worked hard in the past weeks to arrive for this match in the best possible shape.

“I’m expecting two complicated ties against Lincoln and our priority now is to get a positive result in the first leg that would set us in a favourable position ahead of next week’s second leg in Gibraltar.”

Transfer activity

In the close season the Spartans have signed three players from Zinnari’s former club Sta Lucia, namely Brazilian goalkeeper Celio, wing back Mattias Ellul and midfielder Daniel Letherby.

Added to that, they agreed deals with a string of Brazilian players namely, defender Mayron, midfielder Talison, winger Wendell Barros and forward Victor Manarin and Raphael Lopes.

Striker Luke Montebello, who missed the end of the season due to injury, is fit to start today’s match.

Zinnari described Lincoln Red Imps as a very organised team who like to play the ball from the back.

“Lincoln Red Imps are a team who have a clear playing identity and like to play the ball from the back,” Zinnari said.

“They boast of some excellent individual players and are boosted by the return of forward Kike Gomez who played for the club in Europe last season. Wingers Nano and Tarik Gidaree are two excellent wingers who can cause us trouble.”

Asked what he wants to see from his players on Tuesday evening to secure a positive start to their European campaign, Zinnari said: “I want my players to play as a team. Our strength has to be our collective talent.

“This is our first competitive match of the season and it will be important that we adopt a prudent approach and be patient to try and break down our opponents.

“It will be important that we exploit our strong qualities. I hope that our fans will be behind us as their passion is crucial for us in these kind of matches to attain the result everyone is craving for.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Football