Having last week penned another chapter in their fairy-tale rise, FK Čelik Nikšić are eying their next scalp when they play FC Metalurh Donetsk in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round on Thursday.
Following on from their shock Montenegrin Cup triumph in May and promotion to the top flight for the first time, the Steelers defeated FK Borac Banja Luka on away goals in the club's maiden European tie. Though their Bosnian opponents had three players sent off over the two legs, Čelik's historic progress was far from serene.
"After a good result [2-2] in first leg, we maybe thought we would have an easier job at home, but Borac are a very organised and experienced side," said coach Slavoljub Bubanja. "We showed more [than they did] in the two matches, played patiently and deserved this big success."
When Borac were reduced to ten men after 50 minutes of the return and Čelik went ahead through Marko Milić's own goal soon after, it seemed the competition newcomers had a simple run to the finishing line. However, a swift equaliser from Srđan Grahovac ensured that was far from the case.
"You must understand that Čelik have never played a top-flight match, so it was perhaps inevitable that we would display a little fear, especially when we knew we were close [to qualifying] after scoring first," added Bubanja. "However, we reacted in time without any major problems and held on to this precious draw."
Čelik's attention now turns to Metalurh, beaten by FC Shaktar Donetsk in last season's Ukrainian Cup final. "We will try to get some information about our next opponent, but we already know that we will have a mountain to climb," said Bubanja. "
I can promise that we will give our best, with belief that in football nothing is impossible."
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