To achieve anything great, you need the platform upon which to do that, and that’s how Connah’s Quay Nomads boss Andy Morrison sees this week’s UEFA Europa League clash against stern Belarusian opposition – an opportunity to accomplish something special.
Connah's Quay v Shakhtyor
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
- First Qualifying Round - 1st Leg
- Thursday, 12 July 2018
- Belle Vue Stadium, Rhyl
- Kick-off: 6.00pm
Morrison’s Nomads welcome Belarus’ Shaktyar Soligorsk to Rhyl’s Belle Vue Stadium on Thursday (12 July) as their UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round clash gets underway.
“It’s like I said to the players, to achieve anything great in life you need a challenge and a platform to go and show what you can do. The stage is there for us over the next week or so to go and beat a team who nobody is giving us a hope of beating,” Morrison told FAW.Cymru.
“If you’re going to create history and achieve great things then you need that opportunity to do so and ours comes on Thursday against Shaktyor Soligorsk and the players are ready for that opportunity.
“As a team we need to make sure we don’t let the occasion pass us by, that we do leave an impression on the team we’re facing and let them know they’ve been in a really challenging game. We’re not here for anything other than a win and we’ll certainly do our best to achieve that.”
For the third successive season, the Nomads have entered UEFA’s Europa League at the First Qualifying Round stage, once again drawing a side that is midway through their domestic campaign, as Shaktyor are 15 games in to their Belarusian Premier League season.
With the JD Welsh Premier League season having concluded over two months ago, Morrison admits his team are certainly short on competitive match practice. He elaborated on the challenges the opponents will pose whilst noting that nobody should be writing the Nomads off.
“It is difficult for us to compete against these kinds of teams, who are midway through their domestic seasons when we come up against them. The gap between the end of our season and coming back in for Europe is so short now that we’re not losing a huge amount of fitness and sharpness in that time.
“There is no rest, it’s an ongoing cycle now for us if you’re competing in Europe regularly. Obviously the opposition are a third of the way through their season, competing with Minsk and Bate Borisov for the title, ranked higher than Rangers and Hibernian in this competition, so that shows you what we’re up against.
“Nobody is giving us a chance to win. I heard the bookmakers are 8/1 against us getting a home win but as we’ve shown in the past we’ve got a few surprises up our sleeve at Connah’s Quay Nomads.”
Preparations have gone well for Morrison’s side, with some high-quality friendlies against Crusaders and the Isle of Man FA having been completed in the last few weeks, as well as other fixtures against the likes of Cefn Druids. The manager is pleased that his side has done as much as it can to put itself in a good position for success on Thursday.
“We’ve had some good competitive games. So, everything that is possible for us to do, we’ve tried to take advantage of that and challenge ourselves as much as we can.
“Our fitness levels are very good; the lads have worked really hard and we’re ready go to. We’ve been giving our full attention to this game, because it is such a big task to win a game or a tie in Europe if you’re a Welsh side.
“I think whenever you go into the European games you can only ever worry about yourself and try do the best you can for your club. Obviously, if off the back of that we can help the league in terms of coefficient points then that’s brilliant, but our focus is on representing ourselves and our league to the best of our ability.”