Colin Caton’s Bala Town are in San Marino for the UEFA Europa League Preliminary Round as the Lakesiders step up to challenge Tre Fiori for a place in the First Qualifying Round of the competition.
Tre Fiori v Bala Town
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
- Preliminary Round - 1st Leg
- Thursday, 28 June 2018
- Tullo Morgagni, Forlì
- Kick-off: 7.45pm
A victory over two legs for the Maes Tegid side would represent the first time Bala have ever advanced through a round in the European competition at the fifth time of asking.
The same can be said for their midfielder Chris Venables, who has competed in Europe for Llanelli, Aberystwyth and Bala. He’s been talking to FAW.Cymru ahead of this week’s first leg.
“It is difficult to find the balance in approaching things like this because on the one hand you want to progress, you want to make it as far as you can in the competition, but on the other you sort of realise where you are and at what level you’re competing.
“Bala have done fantastically well in recent years qualifying for Europe and you do have to take a step back sometimes to remember where the club has come from and the calibre of player we’re now coming up against every year.
“We’re so eager to progress as a club and on an individual basis – it’s something I’ve never done from any of my ties with Llanelli, Aberystwyth or Bala – but we’re working really hard to try and make that step to the next round for the club and for ourselves.”
Set to surpass a dozen European appearances if he features in both legs of this tie for Bala Town, it is certainly fair to say that Venables is one of Caton’s veterans on this stage, alongside Stuart J. Jones.
Bala have done fantastically well in recent years qualifying for Europe and you do have to take a step back sometimes to remember where the club has come from...
“The excitement is still there from the very first game that I played in Europe. I’ve played in a number of ties now for a number of clubs but every single one has been different for one reason or another.
“Every venue that you travel to, every team that you face, every different country and culture, you never really know what to expect, which makes it so exciting every single time you get to compete in the competition.
“Every year there is always a positive optimism, regardless of what we’ve done the year before in Europe or domestically, that we can do well and progress and improve on what we’ve done previously. So it is very exciting and something we’re all really looking forward to.”
No strangers to the big stage now, after a meteoric rise from the lower rungs of the Welsh domestic pyramid over the last 15 years has resulted in five European journeys in the last six seasons. Bala won’t be overawed by the experiences they’re faced with in the coming weeks.
“You’ve got to try and isolate the experience and treat it as just another game because you haven’t got time on occasions like this to sit back and waste time and be overawed by where you are and what you’re doing. You’ve just got to immerse yourself in it like any other game and enjoy it.
“We’re really optimistic to be honest, preparations have gone really well. There has been a real uplift in spirit within the camp and we’ve got a spring in our step individually.
“Everyone is really looking forward to it and there is a real buzz around the club. We’ve made some great signings too, so we’re in a very good place and really looking forward to what lays ahead of us.”