Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Valletta coach Doncic eyes ‘perfect match’ in home leg
Aug 2, 2018
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BOV Premier League
Valletta coach Danilo Doncic addressing the media. Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
Valletta coach Danilo Doncic addressing the media. Photo: Joe Borg/MFA

The 1-1 draw against HSK Zrinjski in Mostar last week has kept Valletta firmly in contention to progress to the third qualifying round of the Europa League but coach Danilo Doncic acknowledged that his team still have a lot of work to do to reach their target.


“There is still 90 minutes to play and although Mario Fontanella’s equaliser gives us a slight edge, we still have a lot of work to do,” Doncic said ahead of the second leg of their Europa League second qualifying round against the Bosnian champions at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday (kick-off 18.00).

 

“We need to play a perfect match if we are to secure qualification.”

 

Over the past few days, Doncic and his players have been working on the tactical aspect, knowing that the slightest of mistakes could prove fatal as was the case when Valletta drew 1-1 at home to Albanian side Kukesi which denied the Maltese champions a place in the second qualifying round of the Champions League.

 

“We know that Zrinjski are stronger than Kukesi,” the Serbian, who led Valletta to a league and cup double last season, said.

 

“We were the better side in both legs against the Albanians but luck was not on our side as we conceded a late goal in the home leg which proved very costly.

 

“Thus we have to avoid the same mistakes and stay concentrated throughout the 90 minutes to give ourselves a strong chance of qualifying.

 

“I have nothing but praise for my players.

 

“After the Kukesi upset, they responded in the best way possible last week in Bosnia.

 

“While we all know that we are facing stronger opposition, we are determined to make home advantage count and achieve this historic qualification.”

 

For tonight’s match (Thursday), Valletta will be without wing-back Enmy Pena Beltre, still injured, while Steve Borg is still doubtful after picking up an injury in last week’s match in Bosnia.

 

Doncic said: “Having two key players missing is not ideal but I’m convinced that whoever comes in to replace them will be fully motivated to do a good job.”

 

The winner of the Valletta-Zrinjski match will meet Bulgaria’s Ludogorets in the third round of the Europa League.

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