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Floriana look to bow out on a high against Red Star

A 3-0 defeat to Red Star at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade last week has all but extinguished Floriana’s hopes of reaching the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

But Floriana president Riccardo Gaucci is still urging  his players to produce a strong performance this evening as they look to bow out of the competition with their heads held high (kick-off: 8.30pm).

The Greens have good reason to be optimistic of offering a stern challenge to the former European champions as last week they made life difficult for Red Star until they conceded a penalty late in the first half which resulted in the dismissal of defender Enzo Ruiz.

From then on, the Greens struggled to keep at a par as the Serbians profited from some hesitant goalkeeping by Justin Haber to race to a comfortable victory.

“It’s next to impossible for us to overturn the first-round result,” Gaucci told Times of Malta.

“Red Star were the toughest team we could face and they showed all their pedigree in the first leg as they were the better side.

“But I was still pleased with the players’ performance, especially in the first half when we gave as much as we got. But the dismissal of Ruiz killed us and to add insult to injury our goalkeeper made two costly mistakes from which they punished us.

“But that is in the past now and we’re focused on tomorrow’s match where we hope that we can give our fans something to cheer about.

Giovanni Tedesco, the Floriana coach, must make at least one change to his starting formation as Ruiz is ruled out with a one-match ban.

The Floriana supremo said that a positive showing this evening would surely be a huge injection of confidence for the players ahead of the start of the season.

“Our main goal this season is to be again among the protagonists in all domestic competitions and no doubt a good showing against Red Star will give the players more belief in their ability,” Gaucci said.

“I hope that our fans will come to the Hibs Stadium to support our team as their backing will be important for the players to get a good result.”

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