Connah’s Quay Nomads (Wales) v FC Alashkert (Armenia)
UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, first leg
(at Park Avenue, Aberystwyth, Wednesday, July 7, 7 pm kick-off)
Nomads manager Andy Morrison believes tonight’s visitors FC Alashkert will not be the toughest opponents his team have faced in Europe – but he is still expecting a major test.
The Cymru Premier champions will host the four-time Armenian Premier League title-winners at Park Avenue, Aberystwyth, in a UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, first leg encounter this evening.
The game falls on a special day in Nomads history as it marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the club back in 1946 by TG Jones.
Morrison has led the Quay in 14 European matches since taking over as boss in 2015-16.
The Deesiders have won three, drawn one and lost 10, famously winning ties against Stabæk of Norway and Scottish Premier League outfit Kilmarnock, as well as being victorious in one leg of a Europa League clash against Finnish giants HJK Helsinki.
This is the sixth successive season that the back-to-back Cymru Premier title winners have qualified for Europe.
Morrison has come up against the might of Partizan Belgrade, FK Sarajevo and Dinamo Tbilisi in recent times and believes his men have nothing to fear from Alashkert.
“They’re the champions of Armenia, there’s over 100 caps in the team,” said the Nomads chief.
“There’s an Ivory Coast international, a Namibian international, their goalkeeper is a full international. Are they a Partizan Belgrade? No. Are they Sarajevo? No, but they’re still a very, very good outfit.
“We’re excited by the challenge, there’s some very good players in there, but we’ve targeted areas where we think they’re weak and where we think we can really affect them.
“We’re going into the game hopeful and excited at the challenge.”
Tonight’s match also takes place five years to the day of Nomads’ famous victory in Norway against Stabæk in their first ever European tie.
They have come a long way since, with fairy tale wins in Europe over Kilmarnock and Helsinki, two Cymru Premier titles, a first-ever Welsh Cup triumph, lifting the Nathaniel MG League Cup and making the final of the Scottish Challenge (Irn-Bru) Cup.
Alashkert made their European debut the season before Nomads, picking up an away goals victory over St Johnstone – something that will no longer be possible after UEFA recently announced the ending of the away goals rule.
They have featured in 23 European matches, winning eight, drawing five and losing 10.
Connah’s Quay Nomads in Europe
UEFA Europa League 1Q: Nomads 0 Stabæk (Norway) 0; Stabæk 0 Nomads 1 (Callum Morris) – aggregate 1-0
UEFA Europa League 2Q: Nomads 1 (Michael Wilde) FK Vojvodina (Serbia) 2; FK Vojvodina 1 Nomads 0 – aggregate 1-3
UEFA Europa League 1Q: Nomads 1 (Nathan Woolfe) HJK Helsinki (Finland) 0; HJK Helsinki 3 Nomads 0 – aggregate 1-3
UEFA Europa League 1Q: Nomads 1 (Callum Morris pen) Shaktyor Soligorsk (Belarus) 3; Shaktyor Soligorsk 2 Nomads 0 – aggregate 1-5
UEFA Europa League 1Q: Nomads 1 (Greg Taylor OG) Kilmarnock (Scotland) 2; Kilmarnock 0 Nomads 2 (Ryan Wignall, Callum Morris pen – aggregate 3-2
UEFA Europa League 2Q: Nomads 0 Partizan (Serbia) 1; Partizan 3 Nomads 0 (0-4)
UEFA Champions League 1Q: Nomads 0 Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina) 2 (0-2)
UEFA Europa League 2Q: Nomads 0 Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia) 1 (0-1)
Played: 14 Won: 3 Drawn 1 Lost 10 Goals For 7 Goals Against 20
3 – Callum Morris
1 – Michael Wilde, Nathan Woolfe, Ryan Wignall, 1 OG