AHEAD of tonight’s long-awaited European debut for Hull City, Curtis Davies has insisted anything less than qualification for the Europa League group stage must be considered as a failure.
The Tigers will take on FK AS Trencin in a third round qualifying first leg tie hoping to build a useful lead ahead of the return in East Yorkshire on August 7.
If City can see off last season’s Slovakian League runners-up, they will then have to negotiate a two-legged play-off round to earn a place in the group stage.
And that, according to captain Davies, is the very least that Hull must achieve on their first foray into competitive action on the continent.
He said: “Being a new team in Europe and the hype that goes around that, if we weren’t to get to the group stages it would be a disappointment in my opinion.
“That is where it becomes real. With all respect to a qualifier, I don’t think anyone has ever been remembered for getting here.
“We want to make sure we get in the groups, see who we get and go from there.
“We obviously want to go even further than that and I believe we’ve got a strong enough squad to do so.
“It’s important to get through these games first but the groups have to be the minimum requirement in my head.”
Tonight’s tie in Zilina – FC Trencin’s ground does not meet UEFA regulations due to being too small – will be something of a step into the unknown for the Tigers.
Not only is it the club’s first competitive game in a UEFA competition but the tie is also against unfamiliar opposition.
FK AS Trencin began life 22 years ago in the third tier of the Czechoslovakia league, but moved a year later to the newly set up competition following the split that saw the Czech Republic and Slovakia established.
Promotion followed in 1997 but it is only in the past couple of years that Trencin have started to truly make an impact and Davies knows from past experience that the Slovaks can’t be dismissed.
Davies, who has played for Aston Villa and Birmingham City in this competition, said: “I have played against MSK Zilina, the club whose stadium we are playing in, and they came to Villa Park and won (2-1 in December, 2008).
“At that time we were a top six Premier League club. So, you never know. Sometimes, the unknown is the worst thing. In the Premier League you might know every one of their 11 but we are going into this cold.
“We have to make sure we analyse them closely. We have got to make sure we are not on the end of a shock. But we feel ready. The eight days out in Portugal were hard work. It wasn’t a token friendly we were playing with minutes here and there. It was intense and then it went into three friendly games in a week. So, we should be ready.”