Derry City will be eyeing an odyssey into the second round of the Europa League qualifiers for the first time since 2014 when they face Lithuanian side FK Riteriai on Tuesday evening (kick-off is at 5pm Irish time).
The Candystripes clash against Riteriai was in severe doubt up until Saturday evening after the Lithuanian government added both the UK and Ireland to their quarantine list.
Riteriai will be the opponents facing Declan Devine’s Derry on Tuesday evening – and they most recently reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League in 2017.
Last season however, the Lithuanians were dumped out of the Europa League by Faroese side KI Klasvik.
“So far, I have not seen much of the UEFA Europa League rivals because I have focused on previous matches,” FK Riteriai boss Pikkareinen said last week on Derry City.
“They look like a traditional British team with a lot of long passes, a lot of game head, a lot of fighting for second balls.
“We will play at home, so we have to beat them and go to the next stage.”
The winner of the tie will play their second-round qualifier on the week of September 17th.
Just the Derry City first-team squad and backroom team made the trip to Vilnius on Monday morning as Declan Devine’s Candystripes prepare to face FK Riteriai on Tuesday evening in the Europa League.
And despite the lack of a travelling party making the trip to Eastern Europe, Devine is wary of the threat that Riteriai pose to his side.
“Despite the uncertainty around the match we were always clear that our preparations would continue for the game going ahead,” the Derry boss told his media team.
“We’ve watched plenty of footage of Riteriai over the past week. They’re a quality side and it will take a big performance from us to go through.
“Getting three points against Cork was a great start to a very busy eight days for us across three competitions, but that is gone now and we have to be ready for Tuesday.
“A couple of lads picked up knocks last week but apart from Ally Gilchrist we expect to have a full panel for the game.
“As always it will be strange playing these sort of games with no supporters in the ground, however the club has done a fantastic job in securing a deal to stream the game back home.
“It will be a difficult evening for us but we have to keep our focus on trying to get into the next round.”
Referee: Ville Nevalainen (Finland).
FK Riteriai have only won one league game in their past 16 matches since they began their league campaign in March.
Derry City’s Lithuanian opposition recently reached their domestic cup semi-final with a one-nil win over Dainava Alytus.
Derry City last victory in a European tie came in 2014 when they saw off Welsh side Aberystwyth Town by a nine-nil win on aggregate.
FK Riteriai 15/8; Draw 21/10; Derry City 13/10.
FK Riteriai 0 - 1 Derry City
Injured: Ally Gilchrist.