Soccer: Longford share hopes of progress
July 29 2004

Longford share hopes of progress

Forty-eight teams will meet today when the second leg of the UEFA Cup
first qualifying round is completed.

Estonian winners
The victors will join Estonia’s FC Levadia Tallinn, who beat Bohemian
FC of the Republic of Ireland 3-1 on aggregate on Tuesday, in the
second and final qualifying round.

Helpful fans
Another Irish side will be hoping for a more successful outcome this
evening. Longford Town FC trail Liechtenstein’s FC Vaduz 1-0 from the
away leg, but their supporters will expect their players to match the
efforts they have put in over the past few days. New seats,
turnstiles and a control room have been installed to bring Flancare
Park up to the UEFA A Licence standard required to host the match.

Injury doubt
Vaduz’s chances will not be helped should Liechtenstein Player of the
Year, Benjamin Fischer, fail to recover from a minor leg injury. “We
have to apply pressure from the start,” said coach Martin Andermatt.
“The Irish will try to score an early goal but we will try to impose
our rhythm.” However, Vaduz midfielder Franz Burgmuller is confident
of progress. “If we play with full speed and concentration we will
make it.”

Pre-season fitness
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Glentoran FC face a tough task at
Finnish club AC Allianssi. With the Irish League only starting on 14
August, Glentoran manager Roy Coyle said a lack of match fitness had
played a big part in the 2-2 first-leg draw in Belfast.

Competitive debut
However, Coyle, who could include former Manchester United FC
defender Pat McGibbon for the first time in a competitive game, said:
“I think we have seen the best of them and we are pretty confident.”
His Allianssi counterpart, Ari Tiittanen, is also in relaxed mood
ahead of the action at Vantaa’s Pohjola stadium. “We are in no rush
to score an early goal. We can be patient. I believe we can win,” he

Visa difficulties
Elsehere, Armenia’s FC MIKA will be without midfielder Tigran
Hovhannisyan, who has been denied a visa for the trip to Hungary
where they will play Budapest Honvéd FC. MIKA coach Suren Barsegyan
is unworried, though, and said of his side’s 1-0 deficit: “We are all
aware that nothing is lost after the first leg. We will get even for
the defeat and have enough to build on.”

First ever win
Despite trailing 2-0 to Ukrainians FC Illychivets Mariupil, another
Armenian club, FC Banants, are determined to restore national pride.
Armenia’s representatives are yet to win a match in this competition,
and Banants coach Hovhannes Zanazanyen said: “We will treat this game
seriously because we need a victory in the UEFA Cup. The time has
come to break the duck.”

Staying behind
Illichivets coach Mykola Pavlov has called up an 18-man squad for the
away leg, leaving several players at home to prepare for a league
fixture against FC Dynamo Kyiv next Monday. He acknowledged that his
team failed to take all their chances last week. “We failed to do
so,” he said, “and the winner will be decided in the second match.”

Farewell game
Finally, Lithuania’s FK Ekranas, 1-0 ahead against F91 Dudelange from
Luxembourg, and hoping for a first-ever aggregate victory in a UEFA
club competition qualifying round, could be saying farewell to
centre-back Egidijus Majus, who is a target for Russian Premier
League leaders FC Zenit St. Peterburg.