Široki Brijeg's wishful thinking about Udinese visit

NK Široki Brijeg 'host' Udinese Calcio in Zenica with coach Slaven Musa claiming "any outcome other than a defeat" would constitute a "great success" for the Bosnian Cup holders.

Slaven Musa has promised that his players will give everything on Thursday
Slaven Musa has promised that his players will give everything on Thursday ©Fedja Krvavac

European regulars NK Široki Brijeg face perhaps their sternest assignment to date when they host Udinese Calcio in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday, their task complicated by having to play the first leg on unfamiliar territory.

Participating in Europe for the tenth successive season, the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Cup holders are the Balkan country's sole remaining continental representative following the elimination of FK Željezničar from the UEFA Champions League and defeats for FK Sarajevo and HŠK Zrinjski in this tournament.

Yet, rather than tackle the Serie A side at their Pecara home – venue for the second qualifying round second leg against Kazakhstan's FC Irtysh Pavlodar, when a 2-0 win took them through 4-3 on aggregate – Slaven Musa's team must relocate north-east to Zenica's Bilino Polje stadium for this juncture of the competition.

"We have not had any luck," said Musa. "First we had a hard trip to Kazakhstan, now we must play in Zenica against a very strong Italian club in Udinese. They are much stronger but we have nothing to lose. Each and every one of my players will fight to the max and any outcome other than a defeat in Zenica would be a great success."

Following their second-leg triumph over Irtysh last week, secured by goals from Vedran Ješe and substitute Jure Ivanković, Musa's men drew 0-0 on Sunday at promoted FK Mladost Velika Obarska in their first game of the Premijer Liga season.

Široki Brijeg will return home at the weekend for the visit of FK Velež, hopeful of still being in contention for the second leg in north-east Italy next week.