Linfield enter the European arena once again when they welcome FK Borac Banja Luka to Windsor Park for this UEFA Conference League 2nd Round tie, first leg (7.45pm ko, all ticket). Strict Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place for the limited number of Linfield supporters inside the stadium.
Fudbalski Kub Borac Baja Luka are the current premier league champions of Bosnia and Herzegovina after lifting their second title in the relatively newly formed (2000) Premijer Liga. Their European record includes notable wins over Anderlecht (Belgium) and CFR Cluj (Romania). Manager Marko Maksimovic has assembled a squad composed of players from Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and the Cameroon. The visitors will be coming to Belfast having just kicked off in their own domestic season.
Linfield will be competing in the inaugural UEFA Conference League after losing both legs of their Champions League qualifying tie to Lithuanian champions Zalgiris Vilnius (agg 2-5). The second leg in Belfast saw the visitors deflate a very positive Linfield performance with two quality goals to win 2-1 on the night. Even though the final aggregate score line might suggest otherwise, there was very little difference in class between the two teams, with Linfield just lacking a clinical finish in front of goal at crucial junctures in both legs. There were however many positives for David to take from the game, not least of which was an impressive home debut by new signing Chris Shields. In these difficult times for football there was a welcome return to some sort of normality around the stadium as Linfield supporters, albeit restricted in number, were once again able to cheer the players on from the stands.
This week the Linfield players will have benefitted greatly from time spent on the training pitch as they prepare for yet another difficult European assignment. David will certainly be looking for his players to push on to ensure they can at least carry a lead into next week's second leg at the Banja Luka City Stadium. COYB!