Lusitans land in London

FC Lusitans are ready for the game of their lives on Thursday

FC Lusitans aim to make the most of their opportunity of playing in front of a sell-out Boleyn Ground crowd on Thursday night.

The Andorrans are more used to playing in front of audiences running into the hundreds rather than thousands, but Thursday’s UEFA Europa League qualifier offers them a bigger showcase for their abilities.~

The Primera Divisao runners-up are West Ham’s first European opponents in nine years and manager Xavi Roura is determined to show they are not just in London to make up the numbers.

“We are very excited,” Roura said. “It is a very important moment for the club and the country. We are very excited to be playing in the Europa League against such a prestigious opponent.

“We’ve been working hard on our preparations for three weeks now. There were many big clubs in the draw, but we were drawn against West Ham and that’s great. We know what we’re up against, we know where we are as a team and the draw was big news for us.

“It’s going to be a fantastic experience for the team – not just in terms of football but it has so much value aside from the game. It’s a scenario that will motivate us a huge amount.

“No two matches are the same, so it’s difficult to compare. They could be some similarities with the way we play compared with the national team, but we know where are weaknesses lie and the weapons we need to use in the team to make up for them.”

One player who has performed in front of a large London crowd is the experienced Oscar Sonejee, for whom four of his 101 Andorra caps have come against England.

He was involved as his country lost 6-0 in front of close to 60,000 at Wembley in June 2009 and says this game represents a big opportunity for his team.

He explained: “Having that experience always helps, and I’ve played in two matches here in England and two in Barcelona.

“Those matches were a great experience, and [the atmosphere will not only help the players enjoy the match, but it should also make us more competitive”

Those thoughts were echoed by skipper Leonel Maciel, who says he will not need to give his teammates any added motivation.

“Just the fact we’re playing here is sufficient motivation in itself,” he said, “As captain I always have an encouraging word with everyone, but on this occasion I don’t think there’s any need to add extra motivation.”

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