Yesterday we learnt our opponents for this year’s preliminary round of the UEFA Europa League, as it was confirmed that we would be facing an away tie against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands on Thursday 20th August.
Speaking after the draw, manager Gavin Chesterfield admitted that the excitement was now fully kicking in after finding out who Town would be coming up against:
“It was great watching it on the livestream surrounded by people who are central to the football club and great also to see our name up there again.
“Excitement is the overriding feeling. It’s a proper European experience really, a chance to visit a country that I haven’t been to before and I doubt any of our players have been to before.
“It will be difficult because they’re in-season at the moment, so will be in fine fettle in terms of fitness, but we certainly go there with plenty of excitement and anticipation.”
It is, of course, the club’s second consecutive season in the Europa League preliminary round, and Chesterfield hopes to use last year’s defeat to Cliftonville to his advantage in ten days time:
“Last year we were well prepared and had done our homework, but went to Northern Ireland a bit wide-eyed. But there’s no doubt in my mind that what happened last year will stand us in good stead this time around.
“This year we’ll go into the game with a bit more experience, especially experience of how to deal with big occasions, and that will be key.”
However the tie is slightly different this time around. With the coronavirus pandemic condensing the football calendar, the winner will be decided over a singular leg, rather than the usual two. Yet Chesterfield felt as if this may suit his side better:
“The fact that it’s a one-legged affair makes things different to our experience last year, but we’ll still aim to represent ourselves and Wales to the best of our ability.
“It will be very similar to the knockout cup format that we’re used to domestically. We have much more experience playing ties with one leg rather than two, so that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ll go there well-prepared and confident.”
The squad have been back in training since mid-July and have played two friendlies so far against Connah’s Quay Nomads and The New Saints, with Chesterfield pleased with how the build-up has gone so far:
“There’s a great feel-good factor in the camp. The friendlies we’ve had so far have been really good preparation and the lads’ mentality and attitude has been fantastic. They returned from the break in good shape and so far everything has gone quite well.
“Focus is the most important thing now. Those behind the scenes at the club will take care of the logistical challenges, so it’s down to myself, my staff and the squad to be the best prepared we can on the pitch.”