A new-look FC Dinamo Tbilisi side are dreaming of a second qualifying round tie against Panathinaikos FC, provided they can overcome Faroese club NSÍ Runavík.
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FC Dinamo Tbilisi are dreaming of a second qualifying round tie against Panathinaikos FC, provided they can overcome Faroese side NSÍ Runavík.
The Georgian champions, who won the 1980/81 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, have had a busy closed season, with Czech coach Dušan Uhrin leaving and another foreigner, former FC Bayern München midfielder Rainer Zobel, taking over. "I think we will be able to overcome Runavík and then we can try to fight Panathinaikos on equal terms," said the 59-year-old.
Dinamo have had to deal with a substantial change of personnel over the summer. Australian defender Ned Zelic has retired, leading scorer Mikheil Khutsishvili moved to Azerbaijan, Czech defender Roman Dobeš headed home along with reserve goalkeeper Soso Grishikashvili, but Giorgi Kavtaradze and Donald Jius both returned from loan at FC Borjomi.
After a 3-0 friendly defeat against FC Dinamo Moskva on 27 June in Moscow, Zobel took his new team to Germany for some more training. He was without Gabonese internationals Georges Akieremy and Didier Ovono and had last season's sensation Mate Vatsadze and key midfielder Giorgi Merebashvili injured, but still returned to Georgia a happy man.
'A great job'
"We did a great job in Germany," Zobel said. "The players continue to improve their form with every day but we still could not avoid some injuries. Ilija Spasojević and Nikoloz Firtskhalava were injured, but Didier Ovono and Georges Akieremy have finally joined the team. Our squad is not completed yet, as we plan to add some top-class players."
Those additions are unlikely to arrive before Wednesday's opener against NSÍ, who are eager to become the first Faroese side in four attempts to concede fewer than five goals in a game in Georgia. The champions' record in Europe is hardly encouraging though – in six UEFA competition games, they have scored two goals and conceded 22.
Nonetheless, with a back four which may be composed entirely of Faroese internationals, NSÍ will be eager not to give the game away. They will also be hoping that newly-signed Hungarian player Károly Potemkin can score another European goal for a Faroese side, having registered in B36 Tórshavn's 1-1 home draw against Myllykosken Pallo-47 in the UEFA Cup last year.
Additional reporting by Hans Pauli Joensen.