By Mark McKillen.
AHEAD of Thursday’s first leg of our UEFA Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round tie, get to know our opponents Pacos De Ferreira.
Pacos de Ferreira were founded in 1950 but their origins stretch back to the 1930s. They played in the lower leagues without official recognition as Sport Club Pacense and FC Vasco da Gama. Upon their entry into the league system they adopted their trademark yellow and green colours and became Pacos de Ferreira.
Larne’s opponents finished 5th in the Primeira Liga last season, securing qualification to the third qualifying round of the Europa Conference League.
Nicknamed The Beavers (Os Castores in Portuguese), Pacos play their home games at Estadio da Mata Real. The stadium which was built in 1973 has a capacity of just over 9,000.
Jorge Simao is the current Pacos de Ferreira manager. The experienced Portuguese coach was appointed in May following his departure from Mouscron in Belgium. This is his second spell at the helm after managing them from 2015 to 2016.
Simao has previously managed major Portuguese clubs such as Belenenses, Braga and Boavista. He also spent a year at Saudi Arabian club Al-Fayha from 2019 to 2020.
This will be the Portuguese club’s 5th European campaign and their first in 8 years. Pacos first qualified for Europe in 2007, facing AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup. However, AZ progressed 1-0 on aggregate. In 2009 they defeated Zimbru Chisanau of Moldova in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. The 1-0 home win over the Moldovans is the only European leg Pacos have ever won.
The club’s greatest achievement in continental competition was reaching the group stages of the 2013-14 Europa League. They failed to win any games but finished 3rd in the group after 3 draws. A 0-0 draw with Fiorentina was the high point of that campaign.
Former Republic of Ireland under 21 striker Padraig Amond is amongst their former players. The Carlow man scored 1 goal in 20 appearances during his time in Portugal. His strike partner was former Swansea and Norwich striker Nelson Oliviera.