Updated: Wednesday, 18 Jul 2012 13:54 Liam Buckley is aware of the magnitude of the task his side face in Bosnia and Herzegovina
St Patrick’s Athletic travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a second qualifying round Europa League tie and manager Liam Buckley admits they will be underdogs when they take on NK Široki Brijeg.
Pats will be hoping to put Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat to Drogheda United behind them and return to the form which saw them knock out Icelandic side IBV Vestmannaeyjar on away goals (2-2 on aggregate) in the first qualifying round of the competition.
However, the Saints’ are up against formidable opponents in Široki Brijeg who, while boasting a squad of mainly Bosnian born players, have a strong contingent of Croatians and include 34-year-old Brazilian midfielder Wagner in their ranks.
The Brazilian, who chipped in with eight league goals last season, is expected to be one of many threats from the home side on Thursday night, with Croatian striker Mateo Roskam and skipper and former Bosnia and Herzegovina international, Dalibor Šilic to name just two others.
For Pats’ manager Liam Buckley, the game represents an opportunity for players and management to test themselves against a strong side with a good history in European competition.
“Široki Brijeg are a good side, they’ve either won or completed runners-up in their domestic league and cup for the past few years,” he told stpatsfc.com.
“We’ve seen a few DVDs of them from league games and from the cup final they played in last season, so we know it’ll be a tough game but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
Buckley confirmed that Pat Flynn and Mark Rossiter will not be part of the squad traveling to Bosnia. Flynn left the field of play at the end of the first half of Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Drogheda Untied with concussion, while Rossiter continues to recover from his long term knee injury.
Buckley however remained hopeful that the rest of his squad will be available for selection on Thursday with Barry Murphy making the trip despite injuring his finger during Sunday’s game.
Since making the switch to summer soccer, Irish sides have had the fitness advantage of being mid-season against opponents in pre-season, however Buckley played down the advantage over Široki Brijeg and instead pointed to the high temperatures in Bosnia as something which instead would favour the home side.
“Their last competitive game was at the end of May, they would’ve had a few weeks off and they’ve now been back around three weeks and had a few preparations matches in the past couple of weeks.
“I don’t think they will have lost much fitness so I don’t see it being an issue for them.
“The weather will be an issue however as the temperature is supposed to be 35 degrees during the day, and about 25 at night so with the humidity, it’ll be tough for us.”
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