The New Saints targeting home advantage in Champions League qualifier
Boss Scott Ruscoe has urged The New Saints to take advantage of home comforts in tonight’s Champions League first round qualifier first leg against FK Feronikeli.
The Kosovan visitors go head to head with the Saints at Park Hall tonight (7pm kick-off) as the hosts’ season gets under way.
Ruscoe admits the buzz of a tie in Europe’s elite competition is not lost on his squad – with the prospect of a plum tie against Danish champions FC Copenhagen on offer to the winner.
The boss wants his side to take advantage of their home settings, where they have not lost since November, and put themselves in a strong position for the trip to Drenas in Kosovo in a week’s time.
“It’s the old cliché of not conceding an away goal,” said Ruscoe. “And to get ourselves up by scoring one or two goals.
“We’re strong at home and we know there’s every chance we can get a positive outcome.
“We want to be in a position where we don’t have too much to do over in Kosovo next week.”
The Welsh champions have been in pre-season training for five weeks leading up to the curtain-raiser. They ran a strong Rangers side close in a narrow 1-0 defeat last week.
Only defender Blaine Hudson is unavailable to Ruscoe after ankle surgery this summer.
The boss is wary of Kosovo Superleague top scorer Kastriot Rexha, Brazilian Jean Carioca and Mendurim Hoti, who could be an injury doubt. But Ruscoe, who went out to Kosovo to watch Feronikeli progress at the previous stage, says the club are relishing the opportunity.
“There’s definitely a buzz around,” he added. “It’s why we play sport, why we look forward to winning leagues.
“I was lucky enough to play more than 30 and now manage 10. To have that as a young manager against strong nations is great experience.”
Feronikeli arrived on Sunday and are staying at the Lion Quays in Oswestry.