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Job not finished yet, says City coach

Valletta’s Uchenna Umeh (left) charges forward against Folgore during last week’s first leg.Valletta’s Uchenna Umeh (left) charges forward against Folgore during last week’s first leg.

Zoran Popovic has called on his players to produce a professional performance against Folgore at the Serravalle Olympic Stadium, as the Citizens look to book their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League tonight (kick-off: 8.30pm).

The Citizens have good reason to be confident of finishing the job against their San Marino counterparts as they head into today’s second leg with a reassuring 2-0 advantage following last week’s win at the Hibs Stadium.

Although Valletta look to be a superior outfit to Folgore, Popovis is refusing to take anything foregranted and said that his team have more work to do before thinking of a second-qualifying round clash against Dutch side FC Utrecht.

“We may have a comfortable-looking two-goal advantage from the first leg, but in football you have to earn your own success,” Popovic said when contacted by Times of Malta in San Marino.

“If we go into the match thinking that we are already through, it will be then that the real problems start for us.

“I have spoken with the players and warned them that we have to be professional and give our opponents the respect they deserve.

“Folgore will surely come out firing on all cylinders to grab an early goal that would reopen the tie and we have to make sure that we are ready for them.”

The Serbian coach has no fresh injury worries as Nigerian midfielder Uchenna Umeh has recovered from the knock suffered from last week’s opening leg and  is available for selection.

Defender Jonathan Caruana remains sidelined with a doping suspension while Rowen Muscat continues his rehabilitation from a knee injury.

Popovic admitted that his players are still some way off their best form and said that his club fans must be patient before seeing the real potential of their team.

“I can’t say that I’m pleased with our first leg performance against Folgore,” Popovic said.

“The team committed a lot of technical and tactical errors and surely we have a lot of work to be done.

“But one encouraging sign was the fact that despite not playing our best football we still found a way to get the right result.

“One has to keep in mind that we have some very important players missing, like Jonathan Caruana and Rowen Muscat, while Roderick Briffa is not fully fit.

“Once we recover these players and hopefully bring in two quality overseas players I have no doubt that Valletta will be able to challenge for the main honours next season.”

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