“We have a lead, but we won’t just defend it,” said the coach in the build-up to the highly anticipated match at the Kaplakriki stadium. We left our Icelandic base and visited Hafnarfjördur, situated in the suburbs of Reykjavik, 24 hours before the game to try out the pitch.
“We want to win. We want to force the opponent to play the way we want, not the way they plan to. We can’t let them dictate the game. If they plan on playing more aggressively, we must contain and restrict them. They’ll probably try to put us under pressure in various ways: through long-range free kicks, by trying to play passes deep into space, by increasing the tempo. However, they will also probably try to use their tested methods, such as long throw-ins into the box. They were passive at Ljudski vrt, but playing at home and being a goal down, they’ll probably be more active,” is how Darko Milaniè expects Wednesday evening to play out.
What’s the latest update from the dressing room?
“We had a couple of minor problems before leaving for Iceland because of the busy schedule of the past few weeks, but it was nothing serious. I’m happy with the way the boys have been dealing with these matches. We’ve been rotating the line-up and it helped us retain enough energy. Because of the problems I mentioned, we’ll have to wait for the final report. But there’s enough time before the kick-off to decide who will play.”
In or preparations for the game, we are focused on every detail, including lower temperatures and a very short Icelandic night at this time of year.
“We wanted to stick to our routine before the match. That’s why we planned our trip so that we arrived at the hotel before lunch, which gave the players time to rest before the afternoon training. Lower temperatures are not a problem. We’ll adapt to that. The same goes for the shorter nights. I believe the boys will get enough sleep. That is very important before a big match.”
As is our harmonious mixture of youth and experience that’s setting the stage for a new purple story. With the hope that the title of the next chapter will read ‘Back in the group stage’.
“Before the season, we talked about the importance of being patient on our new path. The older players have a lot of experience, whereas the youngsters are only just getting there and are reacting to different situations in different ways. We talk a lot to the boys and we encourage them. Together, we can get over this hurdle. We possess the quality and we mustn’t forget that. We are going into this match with determination.”
FH Hafnarfjördur - NK Maribor. Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the match won’t be shown on TV. You can watch it live for EUR 7.99 at livesports.is.