Sivasspor ready to stand up to Shakhtar

The prospect of facing UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk does not scare Sivasspor coach Bülent Uygun, who said: "Cowards achieve nothing; you have to face your challenge with no fear."

Sivasspor coach Bülent Uygun
Sivasspor coach Bülent Uygun ©Türker Tozar

The prospect of facing UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off does not scare Sivasspor coach Bülent Uygun.

'A very special day'
The Turkish side are the hosts at the 4 Eylül Stadium, with both clubs looking to make amends after missing out on a chance of competing in the UEFA Champions League group stage. For Sivasspor – who defied the odds to finish second in the Süper Lig last season – it promises to be a massive occasion. "People have dreams and so do communities," said Uygun. "Our dream as a low-budget team is to give Sivasspor fans that chance to watch teams with big reputations in their own city. This little team has improved so much that Shakhtar will be in Sivas today. It is a very special day for our team and our city."

Anderlecht result
Having become a professional club for the first time in 1967, Sivasspor only made their top-tier debut in 2005, but have increasingly made their presence felt in recent years, finishing fourth in 2007/08 and genuinely challenging for the title last season. Their UEFA Champions League debut was to be something of a wash-out, however, as a 5-0 loss at RSC Anderlecht effectively killed off their third qualifying round tie, though they restored some dignity with a 3-1 win at home against the Belgian side.

'We'll recover soon'
Confidence is a little shaky at the club following losses in their first two league games against Trabzonspor and Fenerbahçe SK, with Uygun explaining: "We lost a lot of important players from our first-team squad and naturally the backbone of the team changed dramatically. Our foreign players' transfers were completed late because some of the agreements we made earlier fell through. But you can't judge us on two league games. There should be no problem; we'll recover soon."

'Cowards achieve nothing'
There would be no better time than tonight to get their house back in order, and even though key players Mehmet Yildiz and Sezer Badur are not yet match fit, the ambitious 38-year-old former midfielder is thinking big. "We beat Anderlecht here and we can repeat this against Shakhtar," Uygun said. "If you don't feel excited by playing against a strong team, there is something wrong. Cowards achieve nothing; you have to face your challenge with no fear."