Partizan executive Ivica Iliev share his impressions with club`s website after the Santa Clara game.
“I think we played one of the poorest games, energetically speaking. It was like we didn`t know what to expect from Santa Clara. Our players showed too much respect for the opponent and that`s how the game started. With all that said, I had a feeling we were going to change things around, that`s how it looked to me. I`m hugely optimistic, especially as we are going to play at home, in front of our fans, with new energy. Now we know what Santa Clara is about but I believe we can go through and play six more European games this year. Obviously, couple of injuries didn`t help us but that shouldn`t be an excuse. I expect more energy at our home ground. On the other hand, Portuguese league is one of the top ones, just behind top five. It`s a serious competition, serious football nation, with lots of Brazilians and other quality players. But, if we managed to overcome Sochi, I believe we`ll do the same against Santa Clara”, said Ivica Iliev.
Were you surprised more by Santa Clara or Partizan lack of energy?
“I was more surprised with our entry to the game. It would be different if we had energy and confidence we had in previous matches”.
What do you expect from Santa Clara in return leg?
“I expect us to be different”.
How much Zdjelar or Pantic were missed today?
“Pantic didn`t play Sochi return leg also, but we missed him, Zdjelar and Jovic. Zdjelar is heart of this team and his absence was a big blow for us. You never know, I believe he will be ready for this crucial return leg. If we have fans behind us as we did against Sochi, I`m convinced we can beat even better teams than Santa Clara”.
It seems you are utterly optimistic?
“I am, I believe in these boys. They showed many time before they are the best when it really matters. I`ve seen parts of the game today that made me believe we can turn the things in our favour. We did get back, reduced the deficit and now we are more than alive. We were also close to equalize and I believe and equalizer would lead to a winning goal afterwards”, said Ivica Iliev.