EUROPA LEAGUE: Coleraine guide to Haugesund

Coleraine will play FK Haugesund on Thursday night.
Coleraine will play FK Haugesund on Thursday night.

Coleraine players, management and fans touched down in Norway earlier today ahead of tomorrow night's Europa League first qualifying round game with FK Haugesund.

But what can the Bannsiders expect from the team on the North Sea coast?

Terje Flateby Sports Editor of the Haugesunds Avis

Terje Flateby Sports Editor of the Haugesunds Avis

I caught up with Terje Flateby, Sports Editor of the local paper, the Haugesunds Avis, so get the low down on Haugesund.

"They started quite slow this season, but have found their stride in recent games," said Terje.

"They beat Aalesund away and had a fantastic win against the champions Rosenborg the weekend before last.

"But they disappointed both themselves and the fans last Sunday against rival Viking. They scraped to a undeserved draw. But they still have hope for a good season and challenge for a top five spot."

So who are the players Coleraine will have to watch out for?

"Slovakian international Filip Kiss, who has played for both Cardiff and Ross County, is the biggest star," said Terje.

"He was suspended against Viking, which was a big loss. Kiss is a box to box central midfielder. Strong tackling, leader and also a goal threat. Haris Hajradinovic and Liban Abdi are the main offensive attractions. Good, skillful players, but can also frustrate.

"FK Haugesund is a hardworking, physical team. They run a lot, play a high-tempo game and try to be tough to play against. They also try to press high up the pitch, but can also drop deep."

What has been the reaction to the draw?

"When the draw came, the club did not know much about Coleraine," admitted Terje.

"But the coach has respect for the football in Northern Ireland. He used to be an U19 coach for Norway, where he lost againt Northern Ireland. The senior side also recently lost to Northern Ireland, so they think they could have had much easier opponents than Coleraine. But the ambition is still to progress and win the tie."

What things would you recommend the Coleraine fans doing on their trip to Haugesund?

"Even though the beer prices is high compared to Northern Ireland, I would recommend visiting the restaurant in the inner harbour outlooking Smedasundet, especially if the weather is good," added Terje.

"The local area is also called "Homeland of the Vikings Kings". There are quite a few historical sites in connections to the Vikings, especially at Avaldsnes, where there is a centre."