BATE boss Alyaksey Baha eager for full-capacity crowd at the Emirates Stadium
A 5.55pm kick-off is set to affect the attendance at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening.
BATE Borisov boss Alyaksey Baha is keen for his side to face Arsenal in front of a full house at the Emirates Stadium as they look to complete a memorable Europa League victory.
With kick-off set for 5.55pm on Thursday evening, it remains to be seen how many Arsenal supporters make it to the stadium in time to watch the Gunners as they look to overturn a surprise 1-0 first-leg defeat.
The second leg was originally scheduled for an even earlier kick-off of 5.00pm on Wednesday due to a clash with Chelsea’s tie against Malmo, with UEFA not allowing more than one game to take place in the same city on the same night.
A compromise was reached but many fans remain unhappy with the scheduling and will not be able to attend the match – with the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust writing an open letter to UEFA on Wednesday calling for a different solution if the situation arises in later rounds.
While BATE look to defend their slender advantage at all costs, Baha would rather see the Emirates at full capacity.
“First of all I would say that it is great to be at the Emirates again,” he said.
“When the stadium is full it is even easier for us, the lack of a full stadium is not great to create a football festival but we are ready for any atmosphere.”
Borisov, who lost 6-0 at Arsenal in the Europa League group stage last season, travelled to England last Friday to prepare for the second leg, with their domestic season not starting for over a month.
Ahead of their flight to London just hours after winning the first leg, the BATE squad were pictured in a burger restaurant at Minsk airport.
Baha insists it was not a celebratory meal with the tie still in the balance – and joked that if his players had been toasting their win they would have done it a little differently.
“Let me clarify this, no-one was celebrating the victory – especially not with burgers,” he said.
“We just had a few hours before the flight, changed at home and went to the airport.
“It was a crazy night after the game and they just wanted to get a few sandwiches before the flight. There is nothing criminal about this and it wasn’t a party.
“We have just finished the first half of this tie and if it was a proper party we would have done it with something stronger and tastier.”
BATE’s first-leg win came despite the fact their last competitive game was in mid-December and defender Slobodan Simovic believes the preparations at a training base near Colchester have been a success.
“We prepared as always, we know who we are playing against and what stage we are at,” he said.
“We are going to be motivated and had a good result in the first game so we will give everything we have to qualify further.
“Of course it helps (coming to England early) because of the time-frame and also the climate, it helped us adapt and gave us more time to prepare for the game as well.”