In just under two weeks time, The New Saints will head into the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round and TNS manager Craig Harrison believes his side are better prepared than ever before to take on Europe’s elite.
Having pushed Slovakian Champions SK Slovan Bratislava all the way 12 months ago, the former Middlesbrough player is confident of going further this time around, ‘I am very happy with my team ahead of the UEFA Champions League and I am thoroughly looking forward to competing in the best club competition in the world for what will be the fourth year in a row. I think we can go further than ever before and I am looking forward to the find out we get in the draw.’
The former Premier League defender added, ‘We have been competitive in every European game but now we must make sure that we also get a result as opposed to just a good performance. The lads have been working extremely hard and as a team, we are very confident that we can really achieve something special this time around. I’ve got a fantastic squad of players that I believe and trust in, that have the quality to hopefully get us to the second round and further. To be playing in the Champions League is very special.’
The recently crowned Welsh Premier League manager of the year explained that playing in the first qualifying round of the competition may end up being a blessing in disguise, ‘We will be beginning our journey in the first qualifying round this time but I am looking at it as a positive. Of course we must make sure we go through and it is absolutely imperative that we do so. We are one of the seeded sides in the first round and we will make sure we leave no stone unturned in order to progress into the second round. Playing this early may actually be a blessing in disguise, as we may potentially go into the second round with a win under our belts and a lot of momentum.’
The Saints were utterly dominant during the 2014/2015 Welsh Premier League. Having won the title in March, TNS only lost only one league match in what was a memorable season, in which Harrison’s side dominated from start to finish.
Further success came in theWord Cup which was followed later in the year by the FAW Welsh Cup, which was successfully retained for the second consecutive season.
TNS will enter the UEFA Champions League in the first round qualifying phase, with the draw taking place in Nyon on Monday the 22nd of June.