City out for the win against Dudelange says Abdilla Published on: 16-07-2019

Valletta vs F91 Dudleange

Valletta have their eyes firmly set on securing their place into the second qualifying round of the Champions League with victory over F91 Dudelange in tonight’s second leg at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 8pm).

The Citizens come into today’s match in high spirits after last week’s fighting performance in Luxembourg which saw them come back from two goals down to secure a priceless 2-2 draw that puts them on top in the twolegged tie.

In fact, Valletta will go through with either a win or a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw after scoring two vital away goals last week.

But coach Darren Abdilla has made it clear that he will not be making any unnecessary calculations for today’s return match and will field a team with the onus of taking the win that will put them in a second qualifying round tie against either Bulgaria’s Ludogorets or Hungary’s Ferencvaros.

“We are using the 2-2 draw in Luxembourg only as a source of motivation to go out and win the match,” Abdilla told Times of Malta yesterday.

“It’s true a goalless draw would suit us fine to go through but I have no plans to take any unnecessary risks. We are going out to try to play our usual game and get the win that would ascertain us of a place in the next round.

“In fact, I’m still planning to field two strikers upfront and play our usual attacking game.”

Last week’s match in Luxembourg was not all plainsailing for Abdilla and the Citizens after they lost two key midfielders for today’s match.

Argentine Santiago Malano picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury that rules him out for at least six months while Rowen Muscat was shown a red card after picking up two yellow cards.

On a more positive note, defender Jonathan Caruana and forward Matteo Piciollo are both back in training and are available.

New signing Yuri Messias was not registered in time for the match while Bojan Kaljevic is still recovering from surgery.

The Valletta coach admitted that the loss of Malano and Muscat were two significant blows for his team but he was confident that he has enough quality in his team to make up for their absence.

“Losing Malano and Rowen Muscat for such an important match is a huge blow,” Abdilla said.

“They are two very hard-working players but I am happy with the players I have here and I’m confident that whoever comes in can do the job. Last week, we had young Nicholas Pulis who came very well into the match and did the job for us so I’m sure that we have good replacements in hand.”

Fighting spirit

The Valletta coach said that he was pleased by the fighting spirit shown by his players in the first leg last week but warned them that they cannot afford to give space to the Dudelange midfielders or risk to be severely punished.

“Our performance in the first leg gave me a lot of encouragement,” the former Gżira United coach said.

“As expected, Dudelange turned out to be a very talented side with many quality foreign players. To be honest, when we were trailing 2-0 my hope was that we at least pulled a goal back but the players exceeded my expectations as they continued to battle hard even after pulling one goal back and we deservedly got the equaliser.

“I think that we showed Dudelange too much respect, especially during the first half, and we had to be grateful to our goalkeeper Henry Bonello who effected some excellent saves to keep us in the game. In the second half, we started to believe more in ourselves and managed to level the match.

“One area we need to improve on in the second leg is to ensure we do not give too much space to their midfielders. Dudelange have two very powerful forwards who play direct football and we need to make sure we cut out the deliveries to their strikers.”

Abdilla said that tonight Valletta will again have an added weapon in the form of his team’s supporters at the Centenary Stadium and is determined to give them something to cheer by going through to the next round.

“The Valletta fans are always behind the team so it’s a given that on Tuesday they will be again at the Centenary Stadium to cheer us on,” Abdilla said.

“Even in Luxembourg some 50 fans made the trip with us to cheer the team and when we came back we again found our fans - waiting for us at the airport and that shows you their affection towards the team.

“Our job on Tuesday is to make sure we perform to our best so we can give our fans cause for celebration.” 

Source: timesof malta