Birkirkara FC's surprise win against MŠK Žilina in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie is giving inspiration to potential third-phase opponents FK Rudar Plevlja, who are looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit when they host PFC Litex Lovech on Tuesday.
Maltese titleholders Birkirkara triumphed 1-0 on home soil to edge closer to a meeting with either Litex or Rudar, with the Montenegrin side seemingly confident or springing a surprise of their own against their Bulgarian counterparts.
"Birkirkara showed us anything can happen in football," said Rudar coach Nebojša Vignjević. "Who would have predicted that the Maltese champions would beat the best Slovakian team? So, why can't we do the same against the Bulgarian champions? It is obvious Litex are better than us and have more experience at this level, but we got a result which gives us hope for the second leg at home. So, why shouldn't we cause an upset?"
Ivelin Popov's goal proved the difference in Lovech, with the exploits of Rudar goalkeeper Miloš Radanović ensuring that the tie is far from done and dusted. "I can't remember making more saves in one match than against Litex," he said. "The Bulgarian team are very strong, very dangerous, but we didn't play as well as we can in the first leg. We are better up front than we showed in Lovech. Litex are strong favorites, but we will do our best to cause a surprise."
Such optimistic sentiments were echoed by midfielder Nermin Useni, scorer of Rudar's first UEFA Champions League goal – in their first qualifying round first-leg triumph over San Marinese champions SP Tre Fiori.
"Litex are thinking about the Champions league group phase," said Useni. "On the other hand, we are just thinking about playing our best. I am sure they feel a little pressure, because they know that in 90 minutes anything might happen. Our only task in the second leg is to give 100%. If our best performance isn't enough, we won't have any regrets."
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