Asteras Tripolis skipper Kostas Triantafyllopoulos admitted tonight’s Europa League match with Hibs will be overshadowed by the tragedy unfolding in Greece where wildfires have killed close to 100 people – with more feared dead.
Both sets of players will wear black armbands and a minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off at Easter Road in tribute to those who have died.
But while Triantafyllopoulos revealed none of his team-mates’ immediate families were touched by the unfolding disaster, they were acutely aware of the “unbearable” pain those affected have suffered.
He said: “It’s a national tragedy for the country but we are here to get the best result we can to at least give some pleasure to anyone interested in the game; we’ll try to make it best for the people.”
The defender admitted, however, he feels Asteras are at a disadvantage as they go into the first leg of the second qualifying round having only played three pre-season friendlies at a training camp in Poland.
And although Hibs themselves have had just those two competitive outings against the part-timers of NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands, he insisted that was enough to give Neil Lennon’s players the edge.
He said: “Everyone knows that in pre-season friendlies no-one plays the 90 minutes, they play, 30, 45 or 60 and not all together. Hibs may not have played the strongest of teams but that will have given them a lot of confidence.”
However, he insisted Asteras feel they can win the tie with Norway’s Molde or KF Laci of Albania lying in wait.
He said: “You always have the confidence you can qualify for the next stage but we know tonight will be a difficult game for us.”