Ian Hughes, Aberystwyth Town manager
With the Aberystwyth Town management staff and players having settled into their comfortable accommodation at the Everglades Hotel in Derry, ahead of their UEFA first qualifying round tie against their Northern Ireland hosts on Thursday evening, manager Ian Hughes spoke with WPL reporter Robert Clement at the Brandywell Stadium, prior to an eighty minute pre run out, with him being asked if he had a full strength team.
“We do , we have all players available which is important , we’ve strengthened the squad from last season, and we have been able to add to that now, so we have a relatively stronger, bench which can hopefully help us on Thursday”.
Anglesey born Hughes was asked having been in Derry for 24 hours ,what has been his overall view of the city so far?
“ Its been good , we went into the city this morning and the weather was better yesterday than it is today, but its a traditional city similar to what we have in Wales.
What sort of tie are you expecting on Thursday?
“its going to be a tight game , I expect Derry to come at us being half way through their season, and they’re expected to win the game with them being the seeded team, so coming here we’re going to make it as difficult as we can for them but also knowing that we have players to hurt the team as well. Its been about ten years since we last competed in Europe, and of course we would like to progress, at the end of the day we we’re here representing Wales, which is a big honour for the club and we’re hopeful of producing something”.
“Having played against TNS last Saturday ,we are quite content with our performance: they’re a decent team and it would be foolish of us not to come here with our strongest team, following our final preparation game”.
“ Its about us preparing right for the game with us being as organised as possible with us trying to do our best for this final pre tournament game”
Hughes was asked how he rated the League of Ireland.
For many years I have never been an advocate of summer football , but being in the situation we are in now I can see the benefit of it moving
“About ten years ago I would certainly say that the League of Ireland and the Welsh Premier League we’re on a similar standing , but I would now say that the League of Ireland has significantly improved over the last five or six years”.
“ For many years I have never been an advocate of summer football , but being in the situation we are in now I can see the benefit of it moving in that direction , the attendances increased and with the money coming in you get better players to attract to the club”
“ We had a club representative here last Friday for the match against Dundalk and we are under no illusions how difficult its going to be with us having quite a bit of information but again who’s to say that they are going to set up that way on Thursday”.
“We are aware that they have some good tricky attacking players , and we are aware of them being strong physically at the back, so we have to just make sure that we stand up to that task”.
“ I would certainly say that its 60/40 in favour of Derry , the pressure is on them with them being the seeded team , but we will see where they’re at the end of play tomorrow evening , so as long as we are still in a tie, we will be quite content”.
Aberystwyth’s first team coach Antonio Corbisiero was then asked what it meant to the players and club overall
“ Coming into Europe is what you play for all season , and all the players are ecstatic about being here with it being a massive situation following the Cup Final last season against TNS “
“ From a clubs side of it we’ve not been here for about ten years, with it being massive for the town and there’s no beating about the bush , it helps teams like us to fund for next season, and that’s what we have to keep strong to do maintaining good performances and getting into Europe to hopefully progress”.
The former Swansea City youth product was asked if it was a disadvantage to play Derry who are midway through their season, meanwhile for Aberystwyth it’s their first competitive game prior to their League campaign.
“ No , I don’t think so , to be fair we’ve been off for three weeks and since that period we have been training as normal and it’s been going well, having played three competitive sides and everyone has come through successfully.
Having drawn Irish opposition, do you think it makes it a level playing field?
“ Yes definitely , Derry striker Rory Patterson has agreed that the Irish League and the Welsh League are on a par , with us not knowing much about them”.
With the away tie coming first , how does that suit you?
“It doesn’t really matter for us , we want to keep the tie alive , obviously Derry will be at the races from the off , being in front of their own crowd and will want to take something to Park Avenue”.
“ However we have to win a game of football like we are supposed to do , so we’re up for the battle”.
With Belarus opponents awaiting the winners its a big opportunity with it being a major part in the season?
“ Yes definitely , it’s all about progressing to the next round with it being experience for both clubs to play here in Ireland and then for the second leg in Wales for the winners to make that all important step forward.
Mike Lewis , Phil Draper , Sion James ,Wyn Thomas , Chris Thomas , Stuart Jones , Tom Atyeo , Cledan Davis , Chris Venables , Luke Sherbon , Rhydian Davies , Steff Williams , Craig Williams , Bari Morgan , Mark Jones , Geoff Kellaway , Antonio Corbisierio , Jamie Butler.