Sligo Rovers begin their European adventure tomorrow night with a trip to the Ukraine to face Vorskla Poltava in the third qualifying round.
Poltava, 5-0 aggregate conquerors of Glentoran in the last round, currently sits third in the Ukrainian premier League behind traditional powerhouses Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev having won two of their opening 3 games of the new season. They come into this game in good spirits following a 4-2 home win over Metalurh Donetsk
With the exception of Albanian defender Armend Dallku, fellow country man Ahmed Januzi who scored in Sunday’s win, Serbian Jovan Markoski and Belarusian Dimitry Osipenko the squad has a very domestic feel to it.
They boast two former Ukrainian Internationals, Oleh Krasnopyorov and Serhiy Zakarlyuka in their ranks and in 57 year old coach, Nikolay Pavlov; they can count on the experience of a former USSR international who is a Knight of the order for merits.
Pavlov has been in charge since 2007 and has overseen steady progress while in charge winning the Ukrainian cup in 2009.
Sligo Rovers will travel without fear however as they are enjoying an impressive season of their, currently top of the table Paul Cook’s side are also into the semi final of the EA sports cup. Rovers are in a fine run of form at the moment with a strong defence laying the foundation for their success.
Cook will have a fully fit squad for the match and brings a full compliment of players to the Ukraine with him.
Speaking to sligorovers.com ahead of the game, the former Tranmere man said: “We are looking forward to it. Sometimes you don’t like distractions in that we‘re really focusing on our title challenge. Everyone would agree that is what we‘re trying to do. But this is a great experience for us and we are keen to acquit ourselves well.
“We know how we like to play and we’ll get the balance right. We can’t go there with a kamikaze approach and risk shipping early goals. The opening stages will tell us a lot and if we go there and play well I think we can come away with a good score line to take back to The Showground’s.
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.