Back to the Balkans

Monday 14 October 2002

Sylvain Legwinski is predicting a tough return to Croatia after Fulham were drawn against Dinamo Zagreb in the second round of the UEFA Cup.

The Whites edged out Hajduk Split in the first round after a 1-0 win in Croatia and a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Loftus Road. However, the players will be able to take little comfort in the fact that Dinamo top Croatian league by one point over Hajduk.

Speaking to Fulham Today, midfielder Legwinski reacted to the draw with mixed emotions. On one hand the draw represents a return to a hostile Croatian atmosphere, however the experience gained from the first round must surely put the Whites in a strong position.

"Like Hajduk Split, Zagreb are a team that we don't really know. But Split were a very difficult side to beat," Legwinski admitted.

"Dinamo are a team with a lot of experienced players so if we don't keep our focus it will be a very tough match. Looking back it was good that we played the second leg of the Split match at Loftus Road. If they had taken the lead in Croatia, it would have been very hard to come back."

After eliminating Split, Fulham were faced with the awkward task of a London derby against Charlton. The match could well have been the proverbial banana skin, but the players managed to negotiate the obstacle courtesy of a first half Facundo Sava strike.

However, they still had to endure a nervy closing stage where the visitors looked more than likely to secure a share of the spoils.

"We were very tired in the game against Charlton and it was very difficult for us to maintain the pace after a very good start to the game," explained Legwinski.

"We had a bad game against Charlton but we still succeeded in scoring during our best period of the game.

"We have less problems scoring this season and it's important that we keep a positive outlook. If we create as many chances as we did last season and continue to score, I think we will reach our objective."

Nonetheless, this season's scoring record will be thoroughly put to the test on Saturday as the Whites take on a Manchester United side who have only conceded six goals in nine Premiership encounters.

"Manchester United is one of the four big games of the season," said Legwinski. "They are one the biggest sides in Europe and you always want to do well against them.

"It will be a very big test for us. If we can win against Manchester United, it will mean we'll have really progressed."