City eye positive result in Albania Published on: 11-07-2018

Valletta start their adventure in the UEFA Champions League when they play guests to FK Kukesi, of Albania, in the opening leg of the first qualifying round at the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder this evening (kick-off: 7pm).

The Malta champions are approaching this match in a positive frame of mind and have set their sights of attaining a positive result from today’s first leg that would keep them firmly in contention ahead of next week’s second leg at the Centenary Stadium.

Danilo Doncic, the Valletta coach, was pleased with his team’s preparations ahead of tonight’s match and said that they will do everything they can to return home with a favourable result.

“On the whole I’m quite happy with the team’s preparation ahead of our European commitments,” Doncic told the Times of Malta.

“The players worked really hard in the last few weeks and I’m happy with their application. It’s unfortunate that we could only play four friendlies but that was beyond our control. This is our first match of the season and we need to perform straight away.

“We know that Kukesi will be very difficult opponents but we are giving it our best shot and our main goal is to put ourselves in a good position ahead of the second leg.”

The Valletta coach said that he has managed to gather some information on today’s opponents and labelled Kukesi as a very physical side and warned his players to be cautious in set-piece situations.

“We did a lot of homework on our opponents and from the information I received it seems that they play in a 4-2-3-1 system and have changed seven players from the team that placed second in the Albanian championship last season,” Doncic said.

“They have a lot of players who have a big stature and they play a very physical game. Surely, they will be a major threat in setpieces and we need to be very cautious in that aspect.”

In the close season, Doncic has brought in two new players in attacking midfielder Bogdan Gavrila, from Romania, and Italian striker Mario Fontanella.

Fontanella is likely to lead Valletta’s forward line this evening but there are doubts on the fitness of Gavrila and it remains to be seen whether the City mentor will take any risk with his new signing.

Since Doncic took over at Valletta last December, the Citizens have always distinguished themselves with their attacking mentality. Asked whether he will adopt a more cautious approach, Doncic responded: “We will surely not going out with all guns blazing as we know that we are facing a very strong team. I think we may start a bit cautious but then we will see how the game develops.

“But our philosophy remains the same and we will try to play our game by trying to press them high and try and exploit any gaps in their defence as scoring a goal will surely be a major advantage in our hopes of progressing to the next round.”

Source - Times of Malta