The game against Paide - like the return match - can be watched live on MAUVE TV. Create your MAUVE+ account now to follow the match.
On the eve of the first qualifying match for the UEFA Conference League, coach Felice Mazzù and Wesley Hoedt addressed the press in the A. Le Coq Arena, the national football stadium in the Estonian capital Tallinn. It is in that stadium that Sporting will play its first match of this season's European campaign against Paide Linnameeskond.
The Estonians from Paide - a town an hour's drive from Tallinn - are currently fourth in the national league and have already gone through two qualifying rounds for the Conference League to face Sporting.
"We come here with respect for the opponent", says coach Mazzù. "Paide is a strong team, didn't concede any goals in their qualifying matches, and plays from a good organisation. Moreover, they are mentally strong, and they are prepared to give everything even in additional time or penalties. So we certainly do not come with the idea that it will be easy. But of course we will do our best to win. I expect a nice match."
Wesley Hoedt agreed with the coach, although he feels that Sporting should mainly rely on their own strength: "Of course we have respect for the opponent, but we have to look at ourselves here."
"For me personally and for this group, it is crucial to reach the group stages of the Conference League", said the central defender. "The elimination against Vitesse last season we have to forget now. New season, new chance. And we have to dare put that pressure on ourselves. Whether you're a young group or not, that's part of professional football.”
Hoedt will face one familiar face at Paide.He’ll play against Ragnar Klavan, a former teammate at AZ. "Ragnar played in my position when I came through from the youth ranks to Van Gaal’s first team. I was about 16 at the time. Later he made a name for himself in the Serie A and the Premier League with Caglieri and Liverpool. So I think we can agree that he had a successful career. He is a national hero here in Estonia, and he owes that to himself."
The first match against Paide can be followed live tomorrow on MAUVE TV, the video platform of RSC Anderlecht. Kick-off at 6.45pm