FK Trakai profile: Lithuanian side set to face Cefn Druids
In just under a week, The Cefn Druids will play Europa League Football for the first time in six years, but who are their opponents FK Trakai?
Huw Griffiths will take host the Knights at The New Saints’ Park Hall ground, before travelling to the LFF Stadium for the return leg.
Here’s a dossier which may be of help to the Cefn Druids and Huw Griffiths as they try and reach the next round of the UEFA Europa League.
How did they qualify?
Trakai qualified for the UEFA Europa League, by finishing third in an eight-team league last season. They got to the Championship round, where they finished seven points behind league leaders Suduva and three points by Žalgiris, who have received a bye to the Europa League first qualifying round.
Who’s their manager?
Trakai are under new management, having only recently appointed 46-year-old Kibu Vicuña. He replaced Russian manager Oleg Vasilenko who had been in charge for seventeen months.
Vicuna’s coaching experience has come from Poland, where he has been an assistant at sides like Legia Warszawa, Polonia Bytom, Zaglebie Lubin, Lech Poznan and Slask Wroclaw. He was also assistant coach of second-tier Spanish side CA Osasuna.
What’s their squad like?
Maksim Maksimov was Trakai’s top goal scorer in the A Lyga last season, scoring 10 goals, including a hat-trick against Utenis. However, he has moved on and joined Macedonian First Division side Vardar Skopje. He is a big miss, considering he scores seven goals in six appearances, as he helped Trakai to Round Three of Qualifying last season.
Liberian midfielder Oscar Dorley, who was an influential part of knocking out St Johnstone in the UEFA Europa League, was the clubs second joint highest scorer on eight goals. He too has moved on the club, joining Slovan Liberec.
It’s been a busy week for the Lithuanian side though in terms of player recruitment as they try and replace the goals of Maksimov and Dorley.
A total of five players put pen to paper with the club, as they prepare for their trip to Oswestry. Three of those being already based in Lithuania, whilst two players from Belgium and Russia joined.
Centre-back Kevin Ntika Bondombe joined, having had previous experience in the Belgian Second Division with KVV Coxyde. 21-year-old Lithuanian forward Edvinas Baniulis joined the club has had two goals in seven league appearances this season. Dovydas Virksas also put pen to paper, joining teammate Banilulis at Trakai. Virskas plays predominantly on the wing, but can also play as a striker.
Dmitri Ostvanov of Russian second-tier side FC Volga Ulyanovsk joined the Knights, scoring six goals in his last campaign.
The pick of the bunch though was the signing of 24-year-old winger Donatas Kazlauskas, who also joins from Atlantas. He has played his football predominantly in his homeland but had a brief spell with Polish side Lechia Gdansk. He has earned a total of six caps for his national side.
Švedkauskas, Borovskis, Osipov, Januševskij, Masenzovas, Domkus, Ntika, Jeriomenko, Kazlauskas, Čyžas and Otstavnov started the last game.
Who are their danger men?
18-year-old midfielder Justinas Marazas and Belgian attacker Etienne Mukanya are tied on five goals each for the season.
Also in their ranks is former Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. The 33-year-old has been at the club since September 2017. He had three years at Goodison Park, having been bought by David Moyes for £9m back in 2009, upon the recommendation of former Russia national team manager Guus Hiddink.
Those three will pose the biggest test for the Druids defence.
What’s their form like?
The Lithuanian Football League is a summer league. Their season started on the 24th February, where they lost to Atlantas on the opening day. In the league, they are currently third, having played the most games. They’ve got a total of six wins, six draws and seven losses this campaign.
Their last result, before playing the Druids, was a 3-0 defeat to league leaders FK Suduva. This was the first game in charge for manager Kibu Vicuña.
It’s just one win in five for Trakai in all competitions. Their last league win came over a month ago, against Jonova.
Have they played in Europe before?
Since qualifying for the UEFA Europa League in 2015/2016, the Lithuanian side have had a mixed bag of results.
They beat Faroese side HB Tórshavn 7-1 on aggregate in their European debut, before being humbled by Cypriot side Apollon Limassol 4-0 on aggregate in the next round.
2016/2017 was a season to forget for them though, they exited in the First Qualifying Ground to Nõmme Kalju of Estonia. They had initially won the home leg 2-1, before losing 4-1 in Estonia.
Last season saw the club have their best performance, having reached Round Three of Qualifying, with some links to British and Welsh football.
They beat Scottish Premier League side St Johnstone, beating them both home and away. They then progressed, as they beat Swedish side IFK Norrköping on penalties, having tied up at 3-3 on aggregate.
The Welsh football link comes in when they lost 4-2 on aggregate to The New Saints’ Champions League opponents for this season, KF Shkëndija.
In a league of eight teams, Trakai are the 6th in terms of attendances, on average they have 273 fans at their games, if that was compared to the Welsh Premier League attendances, then they would be played 10th, with Cefn Druids averaging 283 at their games.