Tough task for Hamrun against Gibralter's Lincoln Red Imps today in first qualifying round of UEFA Champions League

Hamrun Spartans host Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in the first leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League at the Centenary Stadium later today, kick-off at 18:45.

Led by Italian coach Alessandro Zinnari, who replaced Luciano Zauri earlier this summer, the Spartans will once again launch a quest to secure a historic place in the group stage of a UEFA club competition. They had gone close in season 2022/23 when they reached the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League, losing out to Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade.

This year, the first opponents for Hamrun are Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar. Despite coming from a much smaller country than Malta, Lincoln Red Imps are ranked higher than the Spartans considering that they have been participating uninterruptedly in UEFA club competitions since 2014 and in August 2021, Lincoln became the first club from Gibraltar to ever reach the group stages of a European club competition after defeating Latvian champions Riga FC in the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Addressing the media on Monday, coach Alessandro Zinnari expressed his satisfaction for being appointed coach of Hamrun and thanked the president and the club for the work done to strengthen the squad.

Zinnari said he was happy with the squad at his disposal, stressing that he preferred focussing on the squad rather than the individual players. He added that although some players had left the club, the bulk of the Maltese players was still there.

Speaking about this double-header against Lincoln Red Imps, the Hamrun coach said “These are two finals for us. Lincoln is a really good squad. They are well-organised. Their coach, from my point of view, did a really good job last season. It will be a tough match but it will be an open match: we will work hard to take our chance.”

The Spartans started their preparation ahead of these commitments last month, playing two friendly matches against Floriana and Sliema Wanderers.

“With regards to the physical condition, I am happy. We worked hard although obviously they are still not hundred percent with regards to the physical aspect. We played friendly matches and worked well during the pre-season. With regards to the new players, most of them are Brazilian players. They need some time to adapt themselves but there are no particular problems so far.”

The return match between Lincoln Red Imps and Hamrun Spartans will be played at the Europa Point Stadium in Gibraltar on Tuesday 16, kick-off at 18:00.

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