Hatters to face NK Rijeka in Slovenia

Hatters boss Nathan Jones pits his wits against a former international manager
Hatters boss Nathan Jones pits his wits against a former international manager

Luton Town continue their pre-season campaign tomorrow when they face Croatian side NK Rijeka out in Slovenia.

Managed by former Slovenia boss Matjaž Kek, Rijeka are certainly no easy walkovers, having finished second in the Croatian First League, behind champions Dinamo Zagreb.

In fact, Rijeka are the only side to puncture the dominance of Zagreb in recent years, having won the title in the 2016-17 campaign, with their rivals at the summit for 12 of the last 13 seasons.

Rijeka have pushed them close in that time, finishing as runners-up in four of the previous five campaigns.

They are in form too having won all five of their pre-season friendlies since May, including a 10-0 thumping of Vukovar last month, scoring 23 and conceding just three goals.

Rijeka have enjoyed some great nights on the European stage too, beating the likes of AC Milan, VfB Stuttgart, Feyenoord and Standard Liège in recent years.

They also sold star striker Andrej Kramarić to Leicester City for a club-record £9.7 million transfer fee back in January 2015 and contain a number of internationals in their ranks such as Leonard Zuta (Macedonia), Zoran Kvržić (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and Croatia’s Filip Bradarić.

Speaking recently about the game, Town boss Nathan Jones said: “I think they might be a slight step up from last year (Luton beat NK Bravo 6-2), but it was a good test last year.

“It’s just we were clinical and the scoreline didn’t actually justify how tough a game it was.

“They were a good side, they gave us a real test, they were a young, energetic side, but we were just clinical on the day.”