The Linfield squad of 20 players, 9 coaches and staff and 2 directors (chairman Roy McGivern and honorary secretary Andy Conn) have settled in to Baku ahead of training at the Tofig Bahramov stadium in Baku tonight and tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated Europa League game at the same venue.
There’s plenty of blue sky and blue sea (the hotel faces on to the Caspian Sea) but Linfield will not wear blue tomorrow. Instead, the Blues will wear their away red and white kit.
It’s hot in Baku - a wonderful, cosmopolitan, bustling, lively and fascinating city full of character, noise and life and of course this city was the venue for the Europa League Final which Chelsea won in May.
That Europa League Final took place at the Olympic stadium which the Linfield squad passed en route to the hotel from the airport last night.
The match referees are Russian
Marko Simeunovic (Slovenia)
Alain Hamer (Luxembourg
This club has received and appreciated countless goodwill messages from within the club, the supporter movement and indeed across the footballing community in Northern Ireland ahead of tomorrow’s historic Europa League play off game against Qarabag of Azerbaijan, regular participants in the group stages of UEFA competitions,
En route to Baku the charter aircraft stopped to refuel in Bourgas in Bulgaria - evoking memories of this club’s last major run in European competition which ended with a narrow European cup quarter final defeat to CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria in 1967.