FC TPS Turku are keen to make an impact in Europe but midfielder Riku Riski predicts a tough second leg against Port Talbot Town FC despite the Finnish side holding a 3-1 lead.
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FC TPS Turku midfielder Riku Riski expects Port Talbot Town FC to "come at us twice as hard" as the Finnish side look to defend a 3-1 lead in Wales and reach the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.
Riski scored twice in the first leg as TPS secured a three-goal half-time advantage, but Martin Rose's 70th-minute effort gives the Welsh club more than a glimmer of hope ahead of Thursday's decider. "They will come at us twice as hard in the second leg and we must be ready for that," the 20-year-old Riski said. "We must remain tight and counter quickly. That way I am sure they will not be able to keep up with us."
A traditional powerhouse of the Finnish domestic scene, TPS are eager to make their mark in Europe after featuring all too briefly in the past. Their continental highlights include a 1-0 win at FC Internazionale Milano in 1987 – although the Italian team subsequently knocked them out – while the following season was their most successful as they got to the UEFA Cup third round.
After missing out on European football for a decade before returning in 2008, TPS are keen to enjoy their time back in the limelight. Riski's team-mate Toni Kolehmainen feels they have the ingredients to progress to the next stage at least. "We have a lot of pace up front and can use that to hurt Port Talbot. We must be able to take advantage of it," the former AZ Alkmaar midfielder said.
The eight-time Finnish champions are in the middle of the Veikkausliiga season, yet the workload is no problem for Kolehmainen. "We have had a lot of matches lately and it might have an effect, but nobody is complaining and the spirit in the camp is good." With several injured players, including Kolehmainen, restored to fitness, coach Marko Rajamäki is confident he "will have a good squad available for the second leg".
The 41-year-old admitted, though, that it was tough to get information on Port Talbot before the initial encounter. "It is difficult to observe a team that hasn't started its season and the team had changed a lot from last year. As it turned out, there were no major surprises."
Having now seen their opponents first hand, Rajamäki is sure his charges can produce a winning formula. "We cannot go to Wales just to kick the ball high and long. We need to turn their centre-backs and try to play the ball behind them. If we do that, I am confident we can make it to the next round."