FC Sheriff are determined to make history this season as they target a UEFA Champions League group stage debut.
Moldova's most successful team domestically, the Tiraspol-based side have played in the UEFA Europa League group stage twice, but it is for this elite competition that their desire burns brightest.
After 11 attempts to make it through the qualifying rounds, the closest the club have come is play-off defeats by Olympiacos FC in 2009/10 and FC Basel 1893 in 2010/11. This term, however, their new coaching pair of Veaceslav Rusnac and Juan Ferrando are eager to go one better, starting against Montenegro's FK Sutjeska in Tuesday's second qualifying round first leg in Tiraspol.
"I hope we will have a long European season," said 32-year-old Spaniard Ferrando, who has previously coached at Málaga CF and Brighton and Hove Albion FC among other assignments. "Despite the lack of time in charge we have done a huge job. We have tried to change the mentality. Sutjeska are interesting opponents, an aggressive team, but we remain optimistic."
The managerial duo took over in early July from Belarusian Vitali Rashkevich, and the change has done the team good according to captain Marko Stanojević. "We have prepared well and want to win," said the midfielder. "There have been no difficulties with the coaching switch, quite the opposite in fact – we have bucked up. Training is more interesting, we work with the ball more and also pay more attention to the way we attack."
There has also been serious investment in the squad this summer with seven new faces arriving, including former FK Crvena zvezda man Cadu and KS Lechia Gdańsk's Ricardinho. The latter is looking forward to UEFA Champions League football. "We will give everything to qualify for the group stage," said the Brazilian. "We have a great team and the facilities are fantastic. I'm enjoying my time here."
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