Trabzon, Karabük on pitch for Europa League groups
TRABZON / KARABÜK
AA PhotoTwo Turkish teams from the Black Sea region, Trabzonspor and Kardemir Karabükspor, will seek the chance to advance during their respective first-leg playoff games in the Europa League today.
Trabzonspor will be pinning its hopes on Oscar Cardozo, the former Benfica striker who recently joined the squad, when it faces Russia’s Rostov today at 9 p.m.
The Paraguayan has already proven himself in the European competition, said Köksal Güney, the secretary-general of Trabzon, in an interview with Anadolu Agency. “He will offer a great contribution and power to the team,” Günay said.
Trabzon has already signed Algerian defenders Essaid Belkalem and Carl Medjani, along with AC Milan’s Guinean wing-back Kevin Constant, as well as a number of Turkish nationals.
But the renewed Trabzon team has one important player missing, Florent Malouda, who was left out of the squad earlier this week after a quarrel with Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Karabük, which surprisingly knocked out Norway’s Rosenborg, will take on France’s Saint-Etienne at its modest Necmettin Şeyhoğlu Stadium at 8 p.m.
Karabük spokesperson Ziya Ünsal is confident of further success. “We are strong enough to qualify,” he told Anadolu. “We will fight to get into the group games.”
However, he highlighted that the French league has already begun and that their rival looks in good shape.
Several former winners will also enter the Europa League picture this week with Tottenham, champions of the predecessor UEFA Cup in 1971 and 1984, traveling to Greek Cyprus where they will face AEL Limassol.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, plucked from Southampton in the summer, will make his European bow in a competition that he last season denounced as uninteresting, unattractive and one that “kills you.”
However, since arriving at White Hart Lane, the Argentine appears to have changed his tune, insisting the Spurs plan to take the competition seriously.
“Tottenham, in every competition that we enter, we need to think, ‘We will win the competition.’ We need this mentality,” Agence France-Presse quoted Pochettino as saying. “And if we play the Europa League, we need to play to win.”
AEL, pipped to the Greek Cypriot title by APOEL Nicosia on the final day of last season, are under no illusions as to the task that awaits them.
“[Spurs] are a massive club and it is crucial we minimize our mistakes against them because they know how to punish every little error,” AEL coach Ivaylo Petev told UEFA.com.
Hull City scraped past Slovakian Trencin in their European debut, but Tigers manager Steve Bruce expects a step up in class against Belgian Cup winners Lokeren.
“It will be a different game,” Bruce said of the tie in Belgium. “Lokeren are a very, very good side from what I’ve seen of them and as we know, Belgium is producing some very good players. It will be a difficult game for us.”