Cardiff Met are one game away from qualifying for the Europa League next season
“A place in the Europa League would be a dream come true for the whole team”
Cardiff Met are just one game away from securing a place in the UEFA Europa League next season.
In what has been a phenomenal year for the University side, who are also competing in their first season in the Welsh Premier League, a win over Bangor City in a play-off on Saturday will see them enter the competition that Manchester United have reached the final of this year.
Past winners include the likes of Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, and Sevilla, and could be joined in the group stage by a side whose previous greatest achievement was winning the Welsh League Division One title last May. Despite losing five of their first six league games, Met rallied to finish the season strongly by beating Carmarthen Town in the semi-finals to seal a top-six spot and set up their game with Bangor, who are coached by former Premier League player Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Met’s ground within the University’s sports campus in Cyncoed has seen fantastic attendances this season, with many supporters expected to head up North for Saturday’s game. The squad members though, many of whom have to actually pay a subscription fee each season to play, are in uncharted territory but not for the first time.
The Tab spoke to Met goalkeeper Will Fuller, who stressed the importance of the clash but feels he and his teammates are well equipped to deal with the pressure.
“It’s been a fantastic season for us and we’re looking forward to being involved in such a big game, there’s a big reward at stake, but we’re fully focused on the task in hand.
“As we’ve risen through the Welsh Pyramid, a lot of the current squad have experience with promotion and title run-ins, so we know how to handle the pressure.”
Full-back Matt Taylor echoed this, reflecting on the pre-season predictions for Met’s fortunes and their outstanding semi-final victory.
“Everyone put us down at the start of the season, and our first few results showed that, however, we stuck to what we knew was best and ended up getting results we wanted which have put us in the position we are in. The result against Carmarthen was tough, but we battled our way through.”
Fuller was quick not to downplay the threat posed by the opposition – former Welsh Premier League champions who competed in the inaugural Europa League back in 2009-10.
“Bangor are a great team and we know the quality they possess, but we have qualities of our own and a staff set-up that has put together a game plan that we think can win us the game.
“A place in the Europa League would be a dream come true for the whole team, but we can’t think any further ahead than the next ninety minutes.”
Taylor reiterated the stopper’s comments, saying that focus and drive will be the key to seeing Met over the line. “Everybody is looking forward to Saturday’s game, excitement towards the occasion, but we need to remain focused throughout to hopefully do the job”
“We’ve already exceeded expectations for this season, but we are looking to go into this game with no fear and we are ready to take on the opposition and relish the opportunity. We’ve created history with this club, and we aren’t anywhere close to stopping, where the club was 5 years ago, the journey the club’s been on is incredible”
The game will be shown on S4C at 5:15 pm tomorrow.
Photo credit: Graham Haines