Monday 18 December 2017

Hull's first tentative steps into Europe

HULL City are facing a club with close links to Dutch giants Ajax for their historic first foray into European football.

The Tigers face Slovakian side AS Trencin in the Europa League third-qualifying round first leg on Thursday with Hull boss Steve Bruce targeting a place in the group stage.

Trencin are a small club who have only been in the top flight of Slovakian football for three seasons - and who normally play in a stadium with a capacity of just 4,500 - but they have benefited from their links to Ajax.

The club is owned by former Dutch international Tschen La Ling, who has made the most of his links with his old club Ajax, with a number of players moving to Slovakia from Holland including Brazilian defender Ramon da Silva, Nigerian midfielder Simon Moses. Slovakian international 
forward Frantisek Kubik was also loaned out to the Eredivisie with Den Haag before returning to Trencin.

The match against Hull is taking place in Zilina, to satisfy 
UEFA's stadium requirements, and Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass are in line for their 
competitive debuts for the Tigers.

New signings Andy Robertson and Harry Maguire are ineligible, while three players with injury doubts - keeper Allan McGregor and defenders Curtis Davies and David Meyler - have flown to Slovakia ahead of the game.

Bruce said the possibility of getting to the group stage was a huge incentive.

He said: "Our goal is to get into the group stage, where we could face some of the big names of European football.

"That is the carrot for us, in terms of why we need to make sure we get through both qualifying rounds if at all possible. That is what I will tell the players.

"This tie is a step into the unknown in a lot of ways, we will just have to wait and see.

"That, to me, is the beauty of Europe anyway. It isn't all about Spain, Italy or Germany. The smaller nations can be just as tough to face.

"I am expecting a typical European game and we will have to be ready for the challenge."

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