Speaking after OGC Nice’s 1-0 victory over Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa Conference League, manager Didier Digard was critical of the quality of the pitch.
Due to political tensions in the Transnistria region, the match was moved to the Zimbru Stadium in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. Many Sheriff fans made the 70km journey from Tiraspol to Chisinau, but the 80 Nice fans, who defied French government and club advice to avoid the trip, were also in fine voice.
However, despite the victory, neither set of fans would have been delighted with the quality of the play on the night. The principal reason for the low-quality encounter? The state of the pitch. The surface was extremely dry and rutted, making passing and dribbling difficult. Ultimately, both sides resorted to long balls.
The only goal of the game, from Ayoub Amraoui, came as a direct result of the degraded pitch. Attempting a cross, the ball bobbled just prior to contact, inadvertently sending the ball into the top corner of the Sheriff net.
Post-match, Digard said that he didn’t believe his side could have produced anything better on the night given the state of the pitch. “In terms of the content, could we have played better on this pitch? I’m not sure. It’s true that it wasn’t the most pleasant game to watch. We ended up a bit frustrated. In a two-legged tie, to be able to win on such a pitch is positive,” he said.
On Amraoui’s goal, he added, “I don’t think he meant to do it! But you have to make your own luck. On such a pitch, you have to try. I think that with the pitch being as it was, he didn’t strike it as he wanted and it ended up in the back of the net.”
GFFN | Luke Entwistle