Soccer: Marinov urges team to stay focused

Valletta Times, Malta
July 29 2004

Marinov urges team to stay focused

Bulgarian coach confident Marsaxlokk could surprise Primorje today
A 1-0 defeat to NK Primorje in their home leg a fortnight ago left
Marsaxlokk with a rather tall order to secure a passage from the
first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup when the second leg is played
today in Slovenia.

Coach Atanas Marinov is aware of the difficult task facing his team,
this summer playing for the first time ever in European club
competition. However, the Bulgarian firmly believes that there is
enough talent in his squad to surprise Primorje today. The Maltese
team, he reckons, stand a good chance of earning a favourable result
and qualification to the next round.

“We start 1-0 down… it’s a difficult match, no doubt. But
qualification for us is not impossible,” Marinov told The Times.

“Our performance in the first leg was very encouraging especially in
the second half. It was our first time in UEFA matches but we showed
no hesitation and I’m convinced we could offer better resistance even
though Primorje are in a better physical shape.

“Before the first leg we only played a couple of friendlies. The
league in Slovenia has not started yet but Primorje had already
played eight warm-ups. Since July 15, our physical condition has
improved considerably… now we’re in better shape.”

At Ta’ Qali Marsaxlokk managed to hold their own against Primorje and
looked a good bet to score a satisfactory result. However, a lapse in
concentration three minutes from the break proved costly for them as
Goran Jolic hit the goal that put Primorje in the driving seat ahead
of the second leg.

For Primorje, this year’s UEFA Cup participation represents a return
to Euro football after failing to qualify last season. Their last
showing was in the UEFA Cup in season 2002-03. They ousted Armenia’s
Zvartnots (agg: 6-3) in the qualifying round before falling to
Poland’s Wisla Krakow (agg: 1-8) in the first round proper.

Marinov may sound confident but he still warned his players to stay
focused and avoid committing the same mistakes as the one that led to
Primorje’s goal at the National Stadium.

“They will certainly go out in search of an early goal. That would
virtually seal the tie in their favour and us facing a mountain to
climb,” he said.

“We must take the field fully concentrated and determined to achieve
a good result. Primorje have to be given the respect they deserve but
we should not fear them or else it’s better for us to have stayed at

Since arriving in Slovenia, Marinov conducted two training sessions,
both yesterday, and a light warm-up is scheduled for today.

The only injury worries are defender Richard Buhagiar and midfielder
Minabo Asechemie.

Buhagiar seems to have recovered from a foot injury and Asechemie,
who twisted his ankle yesterday, should also be included in the
starting formation.

Marsaxlokk (probable): I. Casha, D. Carabott, D. Camilleri, N.
Slavtchev, R. Buhagiar, C. Magro, J. Pace, I. Zammit, T. Templeman,
D. Bogdanovic, E. Barbara.

Referee: A. Tchagharyan (Armenia FA).