Birkirkara coach Drazen Besek plans to spring a surprise on Hearts at Tynecastle next week. The Croatian admitted his players cannot match their Europa League opponents physically and will take a different approach for the second leg in Edinburgh.
Hearts are well placed following Thursday night’s goalless draw in Malta in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round. Besek said avoiding defeat amounted to a good result for Birkirkara. He felt Hearts were motivated to secure a result after Celtic’s shock loss to Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in the Champions League qualifiers.
Nonetheless, he intends to do something different on Thursday. Besek acknowledged Hearts’ status as favourites and conceded the Maltese league does not compare to Scotland’s. He will bring his team to Edinburgh more in hope than expectation.
“I hope it will be a different game in Edinburgh. The first game is passed, now we have only one game, only 90 minutes, and we will see what happens,” he said. “For us, the Hearts team is strong and we cannot fight the same way in two games. We will see if we can do something different.
“Of course 0-0 was a good result. We know who we are playing against. The Hearts team dictated the game. A result without losing is perfect. We know what to expect next week but we will prepare for that.
“It was a little problem that Celtic lost in Gibraltar because Hearts players were motivated 100 per cent in this game. This made them stronger. We fought with them and we can be happy. We are fighting for our name in Europe because, in Malta, we don’t have such a good league with hard games.”
An away goal is the target for Birkirkara. Besek admitted his players must first recover from their first-leg exertions before travelling to Scotland for what he thinks will be a “learning” experience.
“We hope we can score. For us, that is important,” he stressed. “Just now, we are tired. Our players put 100 per cent into the match on Thursday so we will rest for two or three days. We will come to Scotland to learn. I hope it will be a good game because the result is 50-50.”