Belfast Telegraph

Beating Malmo would be Ballymena's best ever result: Glendinning

Big task: Ross Glendinning is ready for a daunting challenge
Big task: Ross Glendinning is ready for a daunting challenge

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United goalkeeper Ross Glendinning believes conquering Swedish giants Malmo in the first qualifying round of the Europa League would be the greatest result in the club's history.

The Sky Blues' 2-0 aggregate win over Faroese side NSI Runavik at the preliminary stage ensured they progressed through a round of a European club competition for the first time at the eighth attempt.

But manager David Jeffrey and his men don't want the fairytale to finish just yet.

There is, however, a daunting challenge ahead as United prepare to run into battle at the impressive 22,500-capacity Stadion.

Uwe Rosler's men are firm favourites to blow away the Braidmen and the former Manchester City favourite has steered his big guns to the top of the Allsvenskan after 15 matches.

United drew 0-0 in the preliminary round second leg in the Faroe Islands to follow up their 2-0 home victory at the Showgrounds, but the Swedish assignment is a daunting challenge.

It still promises to be quite a memorable occasion for the players who have so far helped the club net a European financial windfall of £410,000.

"I think this game is a similar test to the one when Linfield faced Celtic," said former Blues stopper Glendinning.

"If we were to beat Malmo, it would be the best result in Ballymena's history.

"It's been drummed into us that Ballymena haven't progressed in Europe and it's always special to make history.

"Malmo are top of the league and traditionally the best team in Sweden. We couldn't have asked for a tougher test.

"I was in Sweden with Linfield when we played AIK Solna. We beat them at Mourneview Park but lost in Stockholm.

"We had Malmo watched and they are a very impressive side. I saw them on YouTube playing against Chelsea last season and losing narrowly. You never know, we will give it our best shot but our primary goal has to be to stay in the tie for the second leg.

"It would be nice for us to have something to fight for back at the Showgrounds.

"Malmo are no strangers to the group stages in Europe and we know how hard the game is but it's great for the fans as well as ourselves to take them on.

"We have already made history, but if we were to win this game then that would take it to another level completely."

The Sky Blues squad departed for Sweden early yesterday morning and will return home straight after the game on a chartered flight.

"The club has doubled their income from the first game and it's a big boost at a time when you want to strengthen your squad and compete at the top in a very competitive league," added Glendinning.

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