For the first time since March 6, Barry are in competitive action as we take on Faroese side NSÍ Runavík in the preliminary round of the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League (kick-off 6pm).
Qualification for this season’s competition was secured with a fourth place finish in the JD Cymru Premier after the league was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic and the table decided on a points per game model. It is our second successive campaign in the Europa League, following the encounter with Cliftonville of Northern Ireland in the preliminary round last summer.
NSÍ are regulars in European competition, but have failed to progress from a tie in 13 attempts. In 2019/20 they were defeated in the Europa League preliminary round 2-0 on aggregate by Ballymena United. Barry will be their fourth opponent in Europe from the United Kingdom, following on from Fulham, Linfield, Hibernian and the aforementioned Ballymena. They qualified this time around by finishing third in the 2019 Faroe Islands Premier League. In the 2020 campaign, which started in May, they are currently fourth.
With club colours of yellow and black, NSÍ’s entire squad is Faroese apart from Dane Jesper Christjansen. They are captained by Klæmint Olsen, the all-time top goalscorer in the Faroese top-flight, who scored against Spain in a Euro 2020 qualified last year. Swede Glenn Ståhl was appointed as manager at the start of the current Faroese season. The Runavík Stadium usually hosts their league fixtures, but this evening’s game will be played at the picturesque Svangaskarð, just down the road in Toftir.
The reward for the winner of this evening’s tie is a trip to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen in the first qualifying round on Thursday 27th August.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Gavin Chesterfield said:
“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.
“There’s a great feel-good factor in the camp. The friendlies we’ve had have been really good preparation and the lads’ mentality and attitude has been fantastic.”
Upon UEFA’s request, this evening’s game is being played behind-closed-doors, but we will be streaming the match live on our Facebook page. Meanwhile, the clubhouse at Jenner Park will be open from 3:30pm to welcome supporters and host a matchday atmosphere whilst complying with social distancing guidelines. Commemorative match tickets will also be on sale.