Europa Conference League opponents await PAOK but will Troost-Ekong start?

Europa Conference League opponents await PAOK but will Troost-Ekong start?
Credit: Icon Sport

Qualification for the top European club competitions are nearing the latter stages and the UEFA Europa Conference League continues their round of qualifications on Thursday evening. 

PAOK Thessaloniki, the new club of Super Eagles vice captain, William Troost-Ekong are set to take on Beitar Jerusalem in the first leg of this round. 

They will welcome the Israeli club to the Toumba stadium on Wednesday night as they look to secure passage to the next round of qualifying and eventually, the UEFA Europa Conference League proper. 

This match will be the Greek Club’s first taste of competitive football in the brand new 2023/2024 season after playing several preseason games. 

Will Ekong make his first start?

William Troost-Ekong may be in line to make his debut for his new club either from the start or off the bench on Wednesday. The Nigerian international has enough quality as well as experience at different top clubs to impact proceedings from the get go and the defender seemingly has the trust of his manager as well. 

Razvan Lucescu, who convinced the experienced defender to come to the club, already looks to have a relationship with the player as he was seen sitting and discussing at length with the Nigerian after a training session. 

This is an indication of the manager’s trust in the 29-year-old defender who he sees as a valuable member of his back line for his talents as well as his leadership. 

Talking about his reasons for joining PAOK, Troost-Ekong sighted his need to join a team that was under great management as well as a team with strong ambition. 

“I wanted to join an ambitious team with a good coach and in a city where I can be happy with my family. I spoke to the coach, the club, the technical director and they were all clear on what they want from me and their plan for the team,” Troost-Ekong said in his first interview for the club after he signed. 

I already knew a lot about PAOK, having seen many of their European games and I was impressed by the fans. It was a clear decision for me. A lot happened, but I told my agent that I want to go to PAOK. I was very happy when we agreed on everything.”

I want to give my best for the team. I would love to win something in my first season here. We have a great chance now in qualifying for Europe, also the league and the Cup. I want to be part of PAOK’s history.”

A comfortable first leg win and clean sheet for the black and whites will be the aim in order to give their team the advantage in the away leg.

Troost-Ekong may have just joined the club and is still getting used to the style, but his talents at the back will be crucial if his team is to progress. 

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 months ago

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